Anxiety and group work with LGBTI+ young people


This workshop draws on the experiences of workers from Working It Out (WIO), Tasmania‰Ûªs gender, sexuality and intersex status support and education service. WIO facilitates peer support groups for young people aged 13-25 who are LGBTI+ or who may be questioning. OutSpace and Allsorts are peer support groups that run on a monthly basis in Launceston, Burnie, Devonport and Hobart. They involve a range of group work activities designed to create a space in which young people can share and connect with others and this can reduce social isolation, build confidence and validate experiences. Poor mental health outcomes for LGBTI+ populations in Australia are well-documented. It is widely acknowledged that these outcomes are directly related to experiences of stigma, prejudice, discrimination and abuse on the basis of being LGBTI+. Facilitators regularly receive referrals from mental health workers who are seeking specialised support for LGBTI+ young people. Interacting with mental health services involves navigating complex cultures and knowledge hierarchies that privilege medical/psychiatric understandings and treatments of mental health conditions. WIO most commonly receive referrals for young people who have a diagnosis which is anxiety related. In this workshop workers explore how a diagnosis of an anxiety disorder can frame the capacity of a young person to participate in a peer support group, becoming a barrier to the young person accessing peer support. Workers will also explore the complexity of doing group work with young people who experience anxiety, and discuss the relationship between anxiety and gender, sexuality and intersex status. Workers will share documented experiences of young people who participate in peer support groups and how their participation in these groups has had positive impact. This workshop also invites participants to share their knowledge and skills in creating safe and supportive group environments where young people experiencing anxiety can engage and participate.


Claire Johnston |

Claire Johnston is the Community Development Worker (North & North West) at Working It Out. Olivia Hogarth is the Communications and Community Development Worker (South) at Working It Out. Sue Newman is the Education and Office Manager at Working It Out.


Olivia Hogarth, Sue Newman