LGBTI inclusive psychosocial support in the Herzegovina-Neretva Canton

Within the project “Regionalising LGBTI Inclusive Psychosocial Support and Access to Mental Health Services in Bosnia and Herzegovina”, funded by the European Union, on 18 February 2022, Sarajevo Open Centre organized the training on provision of inclusive psychosocial support and mental health services for LGBTI persons. The training was attended by employees of the centres for social work of cities / municipalities in the Herzegovina-Neretva Canton. The training was attended by experts from Mostar, Prozor-Rama, Jablanica and the municipality of Ravno.

Darko Pandurević from Sarajevo Open Centre presented the topic of human rights of LGBTI persons, LGBTI identities, discrimination and equality, SOC legal counselling. During his presentation, he discussed certain identity determinants across the LGBTI spectrum, as well as the basic challenges of being a lesbian, gay man, bisexual, trans and intersex person, as well as challenges in the field of human rights and discrimination in various social spheres. Darko also discussed activism in public space and the LGBTI movement in BiH.

Sarajevo Open Centre’s project partner is the Wings of Hope Foundation from Sarajevo that works to improve social inclusion and strengthen women, children, youth, and other vulnerable groups through its mental health protection program, by promoting and protecting human rights, mental health, and educational support.

Psychologists/Gestalt psychotherapists Zvjezdana Savić and Marija Šarić from the Wings of Hope Foundation were lecturers in the second part of the training, where they discussed how to approach LGBTI persons in mental health and social care systems, in providing psychological support and counselling, the problems and needs of LGBTI persons and their family members, as well as the work with parents.

During the human library participants had the opportunity to talk to LGBTI persons (gay man and transgender woman) about experiences of coming out, (non)acceptance through various spheres of society, seeking support from mental health professionals and generally within the health and legal system. This part of the training proved to be the most useful for the participants, because through direct contact with people who need support, with empathy and listening to personal stories, they can best understand their problems and needs and additionally sensitize to work with them.

Participants from these centres expressed a desire to cooperate with SOC and the Wings of Hope, both in providing support in their work and procedures, additional training and educational materials. The importance of educating the general public on the mentioned topics was especially emphasized.

The project “Regionalising LGBTI inclusive psychosocial support and access to mental health services in Bosnia and Herzegovina” aims to create an environment in which LGBTI people are encouraged and supported to access social protection and mental health systems that offer inclusive and sensitized services. It is required to increase the capacity of social protection and mental health institutions, as well as to expand the institutional network of psychosocial support, in order to provide LGBTI people with access to such care. It is also vital to strengthen the capacities of civil society organizations that provide this type of service, as well as to train their employees on LGBTI topics.

So far, experts from mental health centres and social work centres in Mostar, Zenica (Zenica-Doboj Canton), Banja Luka (Republika Srpska entity) and Tuzla (Tuzla Canton) have been educated in this way.

For more information about the project, please contact Delila Hasanbegović Vukas, Programme Coordinator, Sarajevo Open Centre.

Tel: 033 551 000

E-mail: [email protected]