Initiated Discussions on the Formation of Civil Society Organizations Network That Provide Psychosocial Support to LGBTI Community

As part of the project “Regionalising LGBTI inclusive psychosocial support and access to mental health services in Bosnia and Herzegovina”, funded by the European Union, a working meeting was held in Sarajevo on 31 October 2022, to launch the network of civil society organizations that provide psychosocial support to the LGBTI community, organised by Sarajevo Open Centre.

Since the protection of mental health and general social well-being of LGBTI people is often surrounded by stigma and prejudice, Sarajevo Open Centre and Wings of Hope Foundation in partnership provide mentoring support to organizations that upgrade/introduce sensitized peer-to-peer counselling and psychotherapy services for all LGBTI persons in Zenica, Tuzla, Mostar, Bijeljina, Banja Luka, Prijedor and surroundings. These are the following organizations: Centre for Women’s Rights (Zenica), Tuzla Open Centre (Tuzla), Centre for Psychological Support Sensus (Mostar), Centre for Psychotherapy Budi OK (Bijeljina), Youth Centre Kvart (Prijedor) in cooperation with the Association Novi dan (Banja Luka).

The organizations that joined the above-mentioned in the idea for starting the network are Vive žene – Centre for Therapy and Rehabilitation (Tuzla), SEKA – Centre for Education, Therapy and Democratic Development (Goražde), Association for Psychological Assessment, Assistance and Counselling Domino (Sarajevo ), New Generation Association (Banja Luka), LARA Foundation (Bijeljina).

With the facilitation of psychotherapist Tanja Tankosić Girt, the participants had the opportunity to share their experiences of providing psychosocial support with an emphasis on the specific needs and approaches to LGBTI persons. Guidelines for sensitized and inclusive therapeutic work with LGBTI persons were discussed, as well as for work with parents/families on the way from knowledge to acceptance. The participants, experts in mental health, also listened to lectures on human rights of LGBTI persons in Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as talked with a person from the LGBTIQ+ spectrum within the human library about personal experiences and challenges of living in BH society.

The workshops were designed around the exchange of professional experiences through case studies from practice, and the working meeting resulted in mapping the initial steps for the formation of a network of organizations that will be accessible to the LGBTI community: key directions and values, how the network should look and act, self-sustainability, communication methods, needs for expert intervisions and supervisions, visual identity of the network, the importance of support groups, involving family and friends in psychotherapeutic work, etc.

The goal of the project “Regionalising LGBTI inclusive psychosocial support and access to mental health services in Bosnia and Herzegovina” is to create an environment in which LGBTI people will be encouraged and supported in accessing social protection and mental health systems that provide inclusive and sensitized services. The project is implemented by Sarajevo Open Centre, and the project partner is the Wings of Hope Foundation from Sarajevo, which through its mental health program seeks to improve social inclusion and strengthen women, children, youth and other vulnerable groups, promoting and protecting human rights, mental health and support in education.

It is motivating that more and more organizations want to be safe spaces of inclusive support for the LGBTI community and we hope that these services will become sustainable and accessible to LGBTIQ+ people according to their needs.

For more information about the project, please contact:

Delila Hasanbegović Vukas, Programme Coordinator at Sarajevo Open Centre

Phone: 033 551 000

E-mail[email protected]