The Final Conference Closed the Project of Regionalizing LGBTI Inclusive Psychosocial Support and Mental Health Protection in BiH

Sarajevo Open Centre and Wings of Hope Foundation organized the final conference titled „LGBTI inclusive psychosocial support and mental health protection in Bosnia and Herzegovina“, that took place in Sarajevo on 15 December 2022.

Since the beginning of 2021, Sarajevo Open Centre and the Wings of Hope Foundation have been implementing the project Regionalising LGBTI inclusive psychosocial support and access to mental health services in Bosnia and Herzegovina, funded by the European Union. The project is coming to an end, a lot of important and necessary things have been achieved, and the final conference is an opportunity to summarize everything – results, findings, models of cooperation with different actors, but also obstacles, difficulties and future challenges.

We started providing support in civil society organizations, which has proven to be very significant and necessary; through media campaigns we talk about the importance of caring for the mental health of a specific part of society – the LGBTI community; we held trainings to strengthen the capacity to provide sensitized and inclusive psychosocial support to LGBTI persons in centres for mental health and social work, as well as meetings with relevant public institutions for mental health and social protection; laid the foundations of an informal network of inclusive organizations, but also of LGBTIQ+ persons and their parents/families.

Participants of the conference discussions were professionals in this field and the LGBTIQ+ community itself, through three panels:

I – Provision of psychosocial support in public mental health and social protection institutions;

II – LGBTI persons on the needs and challenges in the field of health and social protection;

III – Sensitized and inclusive psychotherapy work and peer counselling in civil society organizations.

Mr. Gianluca Vannini, Head of OPS III (Social Development, Civil Society and Cross Border Cooperation), stated: “This is exactly what we wanted to address within this project: to improve the capacities of CSOs and mental health institutions and enable them to provide sensitised psychological support to LGBTI people and their parents (…) EU is committed to defending and promoting the values of equality, tolerance and respect for each other, values on which the European Union is founded”.

“With this project, Wings of Hope has become additionally recognized in the sphere of support and building the capacities of the psychotherapy community in Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as educating the LGBTI community on the importance of mental health care. The contribution of this project is reflected in the higher professionalization of the Wings of Hope Foundation staff, its visibility and recognition as a safe place for LGBTI persons, and openness to providing them support”, said Nejla Zejnilagić from Wings of Hope.

At the end, the activities and results of the project were presented, as well as the modalities of future cooperation in the areas of mental health care and social protection for LGBTI people in Bosnia and Herzegovina were discussed.

The goal of the project 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. 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 the Wings of Hope Foundation in partnership realize a series of activities that would provide safe, inclusive and accessible places of support for LGBTI persons.

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]