Identi-TEA offers mental healthcare support to LGBTQI+ youth

Sara Jayne King spoke to two counselling psychologists who are running a support group for trans, non-binary and gender-diverse young adults, focused on mental healthcare.

South Africa could arguably be considered a safe haven for queer Africans as it was announced as the first and only African country to legalise same-sex marriage in 2006. But, that is not the case for a majority of queer citizens in this country.

According to a 2017 survey by the South African Institute of Race Relations, four out of 10 LGBTQI+ South Africans know someone who has been killed because of their sexuality.

And in an effort to plug the safe space gap, two counselling psychologists are running a support group for trans, non-binary and gender-diverse young adults, called Identi-Tea, starting in July.

Chant Malan and Elliot Kotze are two counselling psychologists who are interested in offering greater access to budding young adults often stepping into a transitional phase of their life.

Malan explained that queer youths only really discover themselves once they leave home and with the past two years of their lives in lockdown, that experience has grown smaller for many queer youths.

Another challenges is the stigmatisation LGBTQI+ individuals face because of the deeply entrenched patriarchal attitudes that characterises South Africa.

Sara Jayne King spoke to the duo, who say they hope this will be a safe space to access mental healthcare, free from judgement for these individuals.

We know that accessing affirming care is important for this group of people and that people really thrive when they can be seen for who they are without judgement or questioning.

Chant Malan, Counselling psychologist

Kotze, who is also a transman, highlighted that specifically in the medical fraternity, LGBTQIA+ individuals face an added difficulty – educating their practitioner on how to heal them.

He added that this is demotivating when seeking mental healthcare because a patient does not want to spend too much time explaining their identity.

It's particularly problematic in terms of mental health care because you don't want to spend time explaining to your therapist what it means to be trans, what gender really means.

Elliot Kotze, Counselling Psychologist

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