beyondblue CEO Georgie Harman, who will be among the marchers, said the Mardi Gras is an important celebration of diversity, rights and acceptance.
“The laughter, pride and joy we feel during the Sydney Mardi Gras are in direct contrast to the ongoing discrimination and prejudice that too many lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people still face every day, simply for being who they are. Everyone should be aware, especially when they are partying this week, that discrimination and ignorant attitudes contribute to higher levels of psychological distress and suicide among LGBTI people,” she said.
“Lesbian, gay and bisexual Australians are three times more likely to be currently experiencing depression than people in the general community and are twice as likely to be experiencing anxiety. They are also three times more likely to try to take their own lives.
“Through our involvement in the Sydney Mardi Gras, we hope to reinforce that homophobia, like any form of discrimination, is never ok. No one should be made to feel like crap, just for being who they are.
“We’d also like our presence to serve as a reminder that beyondblue is working with LGBTI communities to improve their mental health, and our Support Service is available 24/7 for anyone who feels they may be struggling or is worried about someone else.”
The Mardi Gras Parade will be televised on SBS ONE from 8:30PM on Sunday March 8, co-hosted by comedian and beyondblue Ambassador Tom Ballard, actress Magda Szubanski and journalist Patrick Abboud.
During the televised parade, there will be a TV commercial from beyondblue’s Take Action Before the Blues Take Over campaign, which has been running online throughout the 2015 pride festival season via web banners on LGBTI sites.
Ms Harman said the campaign, which features a rainbow flag, aims to increase awareness of the signs and symptoms of depression and anxiety among LGBTI people, and empower them to develop an action plan if they recognise they are struggling – go towww.beyondblue.org.au/pride.
“Being aware of the signs and symptoms of depression and anxiety makes it easier for people to recognise if things just don’t seem right and if they need to seek support early to get their lives back on track,” she said.
“I’d encourage everyone to check out the information on the beyondblue website. This includes resources designed specifically for LGBTI people and their families with inspirational stories and tools, like the multimedia guide Families Like Mine for the families of young LGBTI people.
“Trained mental health professionals are available 24/7 at the beyondblue Support Service on 1300 22 4636, or online at www.beyondblue.org.au/get-support for web chat (3PM to 12PM) or email responses within 24 hours.
“People can also speak to a peer community counsellor through the QLife Project on 1800 184 527 (daily from 5:30-10:30PM across Australia), or via web chat at www.qlife.org.au.
“beyondblue wishes everyone a fun and safe Mardi Gras.”