May 26, 2010

headspace gets help from AFL players to say no to homophobia
Australia’s Youth Mental Health Foundation, headspace and the AFL Players Association (AFLPA) have joined forces to say no to homophobia. headspace today released a television commercial to highlight the fact that positive messages about inclusion and diversity, delivered by high profile members of the community, can have a positive impact on mental health. Featuring the words of North Melbourne player Drew Petrie and Hawthorn Premiership player Brad Sewell, the commercial shows previously-released images of past and present AFL players and coaches holding signs voicing their views on homophobia. The images were originally used in an internet campaign in the lead up to the recent International Day Against Homophobia, that featured a range of people in the community holding signs containing messages of tolerance. The headspace name and website is shown at the end of the video to remind anyone who needs support that there is someone else to turn to. The CEO of headspace, Mr Chris Tanti, said he appreciated the AFL players allowing their images to be used to highlight the fact that homophobia is a mental health issue. “AFL players standing up to homophobia will go a long way to removing the stigma some sections of our community still attach to gays and lesbians,” Mr Tanti said. “We know young people who are same sex attracted or uncertain about their gender identity are at higher risk of experiencing mental health concerns due to the difficulties associated with disclosure and community attitudes. “Same sex attracted young people are up to three times more likely than their heterosexual friends to attempt suicide and in rural and regional areas the attempted suicide rate for same sex attracted young people is six times the population average. “It is no longer okay for us to pretend there isn’t a problem, because the health and wellbeing of thousands of young Australians is at serious risk and that’s something that should concern everyone. Same sex attracted youth face particular pressures in their relationships with family, peers and schools, which can lead to vulnerability to depression, homelessness and drug use in response to lack of acceptance and bullying. “Regardless of your personal values, the safety and wellbeing of our young people is the most important thing. All young people deserve the right to be safe and free of bullying, violence, isolation and discrimination.

headspace National Youth Mental Health Foundation Ltd is funded by the Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing under the Youth Mental Health Initiative Program.

headspace fully supports the AFLPA and the AFL for the work both organisations are doing to address discrimination of young people, particularly those initiatives that challenge homophobia and promote a safe environment for all Australians. “We congratulate the AFLPA and the players for their stance against homophobia and hope that other members of the community will show the same integrity as these men,” Mr Tanti said.

View the television commercial

headspace media contact: Briony Walker Mob 0402 399 746 Email bwalker@headspace.org.au

For other comment: Rob Mitchell Mob 0400 756 756

Broadcast delivery / Technical enquiries Walt Collins, Freedom Media Mob 0404 550 107

headspace National Youth Mental Health Foundation Ltd is funded by the Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing under the Youth Mental Health Initiative Program.

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