Steps towards establishing LGBTI inclusive psychosocial support in Tuzla

Within the project “Regionalising LGBTI inclusive psychosocial support and access to mental health services in Bosnia and Herzegovina”, a training on peer-to-peer counselling and provision of inclusive psychosocial support and mental health services for LGBTI persons was held in Tuzla on October 22, organized by Sarajevo Open Centre.

The training was attended by members of Tuzla Open Centre from Tuzla and Centre for psychotherapy “Budi OK” from Bijeljina, with whom Sarajevo Open Centre and the Wings of Hope Foundation, among other organizations throughout BiH, will work to strengthen capacities for providing sensitized psychological support to LGBTI persons, and this training is the first step towards that goal. In this regard, TOC and Centre “Budi OK” will work on strengthening their own capacities to provide inclusive psychosocial support, and LGBTI persons, in case of further need for psychological and psychotherapeutic help, will be able to turn to an expert from these organisations.

Participants of the training, psychologists and psychotherapists, expressed the need for additional sensitization regarding the work with the LGBTI community, in order to contribute to the protection of their mental health and the provision of comprehensive psychosocial support. SOC and Wings of Hope as partners in this project offer their knowledge and experience in these fields.

Like previous trainings for public institutions (mental health centres and centres for social work) and civil society organizations, this training has been designed to address the legal situation of human rights protection of LGBTI persons in BiH, peer counselling, as well as practical guidelines for inclusive treatment and supporting the LGBTI community, through concrete examples from practice, that will especially benefit organizations in building LGBTI support services. Recently published toolkit covering these topics was also presented, that will be of use to professionals and organisations in their work.

Part of the training was also human library, during which participants had the opportunity to talk to non-binary persons, where they presented gender non-conforming (gender variant) identities, as well as the identities of lesbian and bisexual persons – about everyday challenges and difficulties they face in BH society.

The project “Regionalising LGBTI inclusive psychosocial support and access to mental health services in Bosnia and Herzegovina” is funded by the European Union and implemented by Sarajevo Open Centre, with the Wings of Hope Foundation from Sarajevo, which as the project partner seeks to improve social inclusion and strengthening of women, children, youth and other vulnerable groups, by promoting and protecting human rights, mental health and support in education. The aim of the project is to create an environment in which LGBTI persons will be encouraged and supported in accessing social care and mental health systems that provide inclusive and sensitized services. In order to provide LGBTI persons with access to such support, it is necessary to raise capacities of social protection and mental health institutions, and to expand the institutional network of psychosocial support. It is also necessary to strengthen the capacities of civil society organisations dealing with the provision of this type of services, and to train their staff on LGBTI topics.

For more information about the project, please contact:

Delila Hasanbegović Vukas, Programme Coordinator, Sarajevo Open Centre

Tel: 033 551 000

E-mail: [email protected]