European Union support for inclusive psychosocial support for LGBTIQ people in BiH

Last week, the implementation of the EU-funded project “Regionalising LGBTI Inclusive Psychosocial Support and Access to Mental Health Services in Bosnia and Herzegovina” was officially launched in Sarajevo. The project aims to create an environment in which LGBTIQ people will be encouraged and supported in access to mental health systems that provide inclusive and sensitized services and also to strengthen and expand the institutional network and network of civil society organizations that provide psychosocial support for LGBTIQ people in BiH.

“Given the significant number of LGBTIQ people who have faced different types of mental health problems and the fact that a limited number of them turn to professionals to help them overcome these crises, it is necessary to educate LGBTIQ people and their families about the importance of seeking professional help in the process of overcoming psychological crises or permanent mental states. At the same time, it is necessary to professionalize psychological and therapeutic services in this field and train professionals on how to understand and work with LGBTIQ people and their families, in particular on the process of coming out, communication and identity acceptance strategies, coping with possible rejection and exclusion scenarios”, said the Executive Director of the Sarajevo Open Centre, Emina Bošnjak.

To provide LGBTIQ people with access to sensitized and inclusive support, it is necessary to increase the capacity of specialized mental health institutions and CSOs that provide these services and train their staff on LGBTIQ topics. Since mental health protection is surrounded by stigma and prejudice, it is necessary to raise awareness within the LGBTIQ community and the general public about the importance of preserving their well-being, caring for their mental health, and seeking the support of service providers.

Gianluca Vannini, Head of Operations Section III (Social Development, Civil Society and Cross Border Cooperation (EUD BiH) also stated: “We expect that this project will ensure that civil societies are better equipped with the knowledge, expertise, tools, and resources to further one of the EU human rights priorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina, namely fight against discrimination in all its forms, with a focus on discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation/gender identity/sex characteristics that affects LGBTIQ people”.

This project will establish a sustainable system of providing psychosocial support to LGBTIQ people by civil society organizations and in places where it has not been available so far, and will significantly expand the number of civil society organizations that can provide psychosocial support to LGBTIQ people. This will contribute to strengthening civil society organizations working on critical issues of human rights and democracy in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The project will last two years and is implemented by the Sarajevo Open Centre, in cooperation with the Wings of Hope Foundation from Sarajevo, whose mission is to improve social inclusion and strengthen women, children, youth, and other vulnerable groups by promoting and protecting human rights, mental health, and support education. The total value of the project is 200,000 euros, of which the European Union provided 190,000 euros in grants. In addition to Sarajevo, the project will focus on regional centers Tuzla, Banja Luka, Zenica, and Mostar.

For more information, please contact:

Delila Hasanbegović, program coordinator

Email: [email protected]