Healthy Living – June 25, 2019

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BANGOR, Maine (WABI) - Celebrations of Pride Month around the country have focused on the progress and challenges of LGBTQ people. While research on the mental health challenges and needs of LGBTQ persons is in its early stages, a few facts are clear.

What Does Research on LGBTQ Mental Health Tell Us? : Research addressing LGBTQ people and mental health has shown the following:

• Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual adults are twice as likely to experience a mental health condition as heterosexual adults.

• High school students who identify as lesbian, gay, or bisexual are five times more likely than the general population to report thoughts of suicide.

• 48% of transgender adults report having considered suicide in the past 12 months compared to 4% of the general population.

• 39% of people who identify as a sexual minority acknowledge using illicit drugs in the past 12 months, compared to 17% of people who identify as a sexual majority.

Are There Guidelines for Mental Health Treatment for LGBTQ People?
Many professional organizations and advocacy groups have begun to publish guidelines and information to help both practitioners and clients provide high quality health and mental health care for LGBTQ adults and adolescents. These have included: 1) Guidelines for providing psychological and mental health services to LGBTQ people (for example, the American Psychological Association). 2) Assistance in locating LGBTQ-inclusive healthcare providers (e.g., Gay and Lesbian Medical Association Provider Directory); 3) Call-in and on-line peer support for LGBTQ adults and youth (for example, the Trevor Project).

Common Sense Tips for Interviewing a Mental Health Provider: If you or a loved one is searching for a psychologist or mental health provider, it is good to ask a few basic questions to help you make a good match.

Examples of questions that should be readily answered by a potential psychologist or therapist might include:

1. What is your license?
2. Did your training include working with LGBTQ clients?
3. How much experience have you had working with LGBTQ clients?
4. Are you aware of your profession's guidelines for working with LGBTQ clients?
For all mental health treatment, research consistently shows that the quality of the relationship between therapist and client, and the degree to which the client feels like there is a positive working relationship, influences the effectiveness of treatment. Therapists should be ready and willing to answer these types of questions before you begin treatment.

For More Information:

National Alliance on Mental Illness: https://www.nami.org/Find-Support/LGBTQ

American Psychological Association: https://www.apa.org/advocacy/health/lgbtq-health

The Trevor Project: https://www.thetrevorproject.org/

Gay and Lesbian Medical Association: http://www.glma.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=Page.viewPage&pageId=939&grandparentID=534&parentID=938&nodeID=1