Advancing Mental Health Equity for the LGBTQIA2-S community
LGBTQIA2-S people deserve inclusive care and services from mental health clinicians who understand their identity. For this reason, Still Bisexual has been a subcontractor for the California LGBTQ Health and Human Services Network’s statewide #Out4MentalHealth project since 2019.
#Out4MentalHealth advances mental health equity, provides resources to build capacity in local LGBTQ+ communities, and represents a coalition voice at state-level policy discussions. Still Bisexual spearheads one of two #Out4MentalHealth Task Forces in the Los Angeles area, leading a coalition of LGBTQ+ organizations in the under-served San Fernando Valley.
Recognizing and Addressing Mental Health Concerns
Crear espacios seguros y de apoyo
Managing Your Mental Health During COVID-19
#Out4MentalHealth Interview with Clinical Psychologist Rebecca Gitlin
Through our #Out4MentalHealth partnership, Still Bisexual has offered a number of resources. During the pandemic, we offered videos of conversations we had with licensed therapists to help folks alleviate their symptoms of anxiety and depression. For example, we spoke with Dominique Elston, LFMT, who specializes in working with LBGTQ+ families, adolescent sex offenders, adolescent survivors of sex trafficking, and gang members about how to Manage Your Mental Health During COVID-19. We also spoke with Dr. Rebecca Gitlin, clinical psychologist and LGBTQ+ services specialist for the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health about mental health issues facing the LGBTQIA2-S community during COVID-19.
For two years, our San Fernando Valley #Out4MentalHealth Task Force lobbied the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health to create LGBTQIA2-S competency training videos (inclusive of bi+, trans, asexual, intersex and Two-Spirit people) for all mental health clinicians and subcontractors. One of the tools we used to lobby the department was our #Out4MentalHealth Fact Sheet about LGBTQ+ mental health disparities in Los Angeles County. The Department of Mental responded to the Task Force’s concerns and began the process of creating these trainings in consultation with local LGBTQIA2-S community members.
In partnership with #Out4MentalHealth, Still Bisexual created the free, bilingual San Fernando Valley LGBTQ+ mental health conference, #Out4MentalHealth: Healing Through Lived and Shared Experience in May 2021. Spanning over four days, the conference provided 13 virtual workshops targeting the LGBTQ+ Latinx community, Bi/pan people, the TGI community, LGBTQ+ teens, parents of LGBTQ youth, LGBTQ+ survivors of intimate partner violence and sexual assault, and a workshop from the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health that offered strategies for accessing mental health care as LGBTQ+ people.
This Fact Sheet serves to provide an overview of LGBTQ mental health in Los Angeles County in order to inform policy makers, providers, and community members about health disparities in their community and ways to address them.
IMPORTANCE OF LGBTQ+ COMPETENCY AT THE LOS ANGELES COUNTY DEPARTMENT OF MENTAL HEALTH
The Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health serves 250,000 residents annually and requires its providers to attend one cultural competency training per year. This annual training taken by WWA DMH employee may not cover issues related to the more than 400,000 LGBTQ+ residents that live in Los Angeles County, which has the highest LGBTQ+ population density within a county in California. The lack of a mandated LGBTQ+ cultural competency training fails to guarantee that DMH employees and contractors will have the tools and skills to prevent retraumatization and stigmatization of LGBTQ+ patients.
TRAUMA NEGATIVELY IMPACTS MENTAL HEALTH OUTCOMES IN VULNERABLE POPULATIONS
Without LGBTQ+ competency trainings, LGBTQ+ patients can be retraumatized by providers who:
- Question the validity of patients’ identities.
- Make inaccurate assumptions about patients’ sexual orientations and gender identities.
- Invalidate LGBTQ+ patients’ life experiences.
- Are blind to their own cultural biases surrounding gender identity and sexual orientation.
- Fail to create and maintain a safe space.
- Overly attribute patients’ problems to their identities OR underemphasize the importance of a patient’s identity.
- Engage with LGBTQ+ patients’ family members without preserving patients’ privacy.
“I received mental health services from the LA Department of Mental Health for seven years, which included working with several therapists who were well-intentioned, but clearly not well informed on problems LGBTQ clients face in general (safety or stigma) and certainly not issues within our own community (ageism or inclusion)”. — Brian Gilad, LGBTQ+ DMH patient.
WHY THIS TRAINING IS NEEDED IN LOS ANGELES COUNTY
Los Angeles has the largest transgender population in the state — 14,428 residents.
Transgender adults in California are nearly 6x more likely to report having attempted suicide.
28% of Trans and gender nonconforming people have experienced verbal harassment in a medical setting.
LGBTQ+ YOUTH COMPRISE A LARGE NUMBER OF HOMELESS YOUTH
- Forty percent of runaway and homeless youth identify as LGBTQ.
- Sixty-eight percent of LGBTQI2-S youth are homeless based on family rejection.
- LGB young adults who reported higher levels of family rejection during adolescence were 8.4 times more likely to report having attempted suicide.
- LGBTQ youth who report having at least one accepting adult were 40% less likely to report a suicide attempt in the past year.
LA COUNTY LGBTQ+ FOSTER YOUTH DISPARITIES
- 13.47% of LGBTQ foster youth have been hospitalized for emotional reasons at some point in their lives compared to 4.25% of non-LGBTQ foster youth.
- 21.09% of LGBTQ foster youth have been homeless at some point in their lives compared to 13.90 of non-LGBTQ foster youth.
QUEER WOMEN EXPERIENCE ALARMING RATES OF SEXUAL VIOLENCE
- 61% of bisexual and 44% of lesbian women experience rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime vs. 35% of heterosexual women.
- 48% of bisexual women experienced their first rape between the ages of 11-17.
LGBTQ+ SENIORS FACE STARTLING DISPARITIES
- LGBT seniors are twice as likely to be single and alone.
- Latino LGB middle-aged and older adults in California are nearly eight times more likely to experience psychological distress than Latino non-LGB counterparts.
- Bisexual Californians age 65 and older are nearly twice as likely to live 200% below the poverty level than gays and lesbians.
BI+ YOUTH EXPERIENCE SEVERE ANXIETY AND DEPRESSION
- 52% of queer youth identify as Bi+.
- 82% of bi+ youth feel down or depressed compared to 71% of gay and lesbian youth.
- 85% of bi+ youth usually feel worried, nervous or panicked compared to 77% of gay and lesbian youth.
MENTAL HEALTH RISK FOR TRANSGENDER AND CISGENDER ADULTS IN CALIFORNIA
- 34% of transgender adults experienced suicidal thoughts in their lifetime as opposed to 10% of cisgender adults.
- 22% of transgender adults had attempted suicide in their lifetime as opposed to 4% of cisgender adults.
- 33% of transgender adults experienced serious psychological distress in the past year as opposed to 9% of cisgender adults.
- 7.9% of gays/lesbians and 9.9% of bisexuals suffer from housing instability vs. 4.7% of heterosexuals.