Crystal Schick/Yukon News file Jeanie Dendys, minister responsible for the Women’s Directorate, on Nov. 27, 2017. Dendys said May 16 that priorities for the LGBTQ2S+ will be determined through a survey that was published this week.

Not enough is being done to support the mental health needs of LGBTQ2S+ people: report

Advocacy organization Qmunity has made 70 recommendations to the Yukon government

Inadequate mental health care was “repeatedly criticized” when engaging the public over LGTBQ2S+ issues, with several participants calling on the Yukon government to implement a suicide prevention strategy, according to a report.

The Yukon is “one of the last jurisdictions to not have one in place,” says the report conducted by Qmunity, a Vancouver-based LGBTQ advocacy organization tasked with leading the public engagement.

There were 103 respondents in total from Whitehorse, Dawson City, Watson Lake and Marsh Lake, the report says.

During one of 12 focus groups, several participants say they have exaggerated their struggles with mental health in an effort to access services, “even going so far as to embellish a crisis in order to receive adequate services and be plugged in to the system for more sustainable support.”

“Ultimately, this demonstrates a system that is underprepared and under-resourced to respond appropriately to the needs of communities, and a lack of commitment to patient-centred approaches to addressing mental health needs,” the report says.

The Yukon government has posted a new public survey that’s available for one month. It’s to be followed by an action plan to bolster inclusion in legislation, policies and services, among other things, according to a “What We Heard” document that was released concurrently on May 16.

Jeanie Dendys, minister responsible for the Women’s Directorate, said that her department is determining what the highest priorities are. The survey, she said, will help do this.

“I’m not going to predetermine what the community will prioritize,” she said, noting, however, that she expects mental health issues to be of top concern.

“Again, what we’ve committed to is not doing anything for the LGBTQ2S+ community without them.”

Qmunity makes 70 recommendations that span options like cultural competency training for health-care workers, funding a health-care navigator, all genders washrooms and sexual health.

When it comes to mental health, it’s recommended that the Yukon government create not only a crisis line but decrease wait times to see counsellors and psychologists, increase access in rural areas and improve mental health services at hospitals.

A petition tabled in the legislative assembly on April 9 calls on the Yukon government to ban conversion therapy. Started by students from two Whitehorse schools, it had 401 signatures at last count.

Qmunity carries this forward, also urging the government to ban the practice, along with banning sending minors out of the territory in order to undergo the practice there.

Conversion therapy, the report says, is “a dangerous and oppressive pseudoscientific practice …” that claims to be able to turn someone straight.

“Scientific research does not support the efficacy of the therapy, and negative and dangerous outcomes often result, including: distress, anxiety, depression, negative self-image, a feeling of personal failure, difficulty sustaining relationships and sexual dysfunction,” it says.

Dendys has said on the floor of the legislative assembly that the Yukon government doesn’t support conversion therapy. She reiterated this point to the News.

“We’re looking at it alongside other areas,” she said, adding that it is included in the survey.

There was “substantial feedback” when it comes to the Yukon government as an employer, with participants suggesting working for the government has been “harmful” to the community.

“Several YG staff articulated that they feared retribution if they spoke up and out about changes in policy or processes to better support LGBTQ2S+ Yukoners,” the report says. “YG as an employer must put more trust in the process of relationship building, most especially with communities historically under-served or discriminated against by government services, policies and staff.”

Another issue “almost universally” supported was building a resource centre in Whitehorse, one independent from the government but still funded by it. Programming could include peer-led support groups, training services and “advocacy, representation and committee-based work at all levels of government, playfully dubbed an Ombudsqueer,” the report says.

Contact Julien Gignac at julien.gignac@yukon-news.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

d
Wyatt’s World

Wyatt’s World for March 5, 2021.

g
Yukonomist: School competition ramps up in the Yukon

It’s common to see an upstart automaker trying to grab share from… Continue reading

The Yukon government responded to a petition calling the SCAN Act “draconian” on Feb. 19. (Yukon News file)
Yukon government accuses SCAN petitioner of mischaracterizing her eviction

A response to the Jan. 7 petition was filed to court on Feb. 19

City councillor Samson Hartland in Whitehorse on Dec. 3, 2018. Hartland has announced his plans to run for mayor in the Oct. 21 municipal election. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Councillor sets sights on mayor’s chair

Hartland declares election plans

Whitehorse RCMP will provide internet safety training due to an uptick of child luring offences. (iStock photo)
RCMP hosting internet safety webinars for parents and caregivers

The webinars will take place on March 23 and 25

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley receives his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine from Public Health Nurse Angie Bartelen at the Yukon Convention Centre Clinic in Whitehorse on March 3. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
State of emergency extended for another 90 days

“Now we’re in a situation where we see the finish line.”

The Yukon government says it is working towards finding a solution for Dawson area miners who may be impacted by City of Dawson plans and regulations. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Miner expresses frustration over town plan

Designation of claims changed to future planning

Team Yukon athletes wave flags at the 2012 Arctic Winter Games opening ceremony in Whitehorse. The 2022 event in Wood Buffalo, Alta., has been postponed indefinitely. (Justin Kennedy/Yukon News file)
2022 Arctic Winter Games postponed indefinitely

Wood Buffalo, Alta., Host Society committed to rescheduling at a later date

Crews work to clear the South Klondike Highway after an avalanche earlier this week. (Submitted)
South Klondike Highway remains closed due to avalanches

Yukon Avalanche Association recommending backcountry recreators remain vigilant

RCMP Online Crime Reporting website in Whitehorse on March 5. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Whitehorse RCMP launch online crime reporting

Both a website and Whitehorse RCMP app are now available

A man walks passed the polling place sign at city hall in Whitehorse on Oct. 18, 2018. The City of Whitehorse is preparing for a pandemic-era election this October with a number of measures proposed to address COVID-19 restrictions. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
City gets set for Oct. 21 municipal election

Elections procedures bylaw comes forward

A rendering of the Normandy Manor seniors housing facility. (Photo courtesy KBC Developments)
Work on seniors housing project moves forward

Funding announced for Normandy Manor

Tom Ullyett, pictured, is the first Yukoner to receive the Louis St-Laurent Award of Excellence from the Canadian Bar Association for his work as a community builder and mentor in the territory. (Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News)
Tom Ullyett wins lifetime achievement award from the Canadian Bar Association

Ullyett has worked in the Yukon’s justice ecosystem for 36 years as a public sector lawyer and mentor

Most Read