LGBTIQ+ communities are one of the most underrepresented communities in the Balkan’s health, social, political and legal framework. This has also been confirmed by the latest Rainbow Europe report, an annual tool which ranks LGBTI+ equality laws and policies where Macedonia has been ranked 43rd out of 49 countries (ILGA-Europe, 2018).
Why, even after years-long advocacy efforts and community organizing activities, are we still fighting for basic human rights?
Even though there is a number of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) providing services to LGBTI+ community members, the homophobic and transphobic portrayal still persists in the everyday lives of these people. Overall, these NGOs offer help and support to LGBTI+ individuals mostly in the field of advocacy, legal framework analyses, sexual health services and community organizing. The research of LGBTI+ needs assessment in Croatia claims that over 40% of LGBT individuals would like to see psychological counseling as a service provided by the LGBTI-serving NGOs (Juretic, Bozic, Birta, Lacovich, Almesberger, Balenovic, 2007). Also, mental health needs appeared to be one of the major needs of the LGBTI+ community members in Macedonia (Stojanovski, 2017).
Despite all these findings, psychological health remains on the edge of priorities of the decision-making institutions such as the Ministry of Health and LGBTI-serving NGOs in North Macedonia, as mental health is not recognized in the national documents for public health, and only two out of ten NGOs offer free mental health services to LGBTI+ help-seekers (National Annual Program of Public Health of the Republic of Macedonia for 2018; Ministry of Health, 2018).
In the patients’ rights law as part of the ethical code for health professionals in North Macedonia it is stated that the patients must not be discriminated based on their sexual orientation (Law on protection of patients’ rights; Ministry of Health, 2012). More, in the ethical code of psychologists it is stated that the psychologists must be aware of the individual differences including sexual orientation and must not engage in any discriminatory or prejudicial behavior based on sexual orientation (Ethical code of psychologists in the Republic of Macedonia, 2006).
So, why do we urgently need to advocate for improved mental health of LGBTI+ people?
You can read the entire article here: https://www.speakactchange.org/2018/08/21/change-of-lgbti-needs-and-mental-health-what-has-to-be-done/