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Addressing Mental Health Issues in the LGBTQ+ Community

According to a 2022 survey by Gallup, 7.2% of adults in the U.S. identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender (those whose gender identity differs from the sex assigned at birth). This percentage has doubled since 2012, to more than 23 million Americans.

Despite an increase in visibility, deeply rooted prejudices and oppressive laws still work to harm LGBTQ+ communities. In Florida, for example, Republicans are attacking gay and trans rights by banning gender-affirming care. They’ve also removed references to different sexual orientations from school curriculums in an attempt to slow education and acceptance. On a personal level, LGBTQ+ people may contend with:

  • Rejection — Family, close friends, colleagues, and faith-based communities may turn their backs on those who come out.
  • Trauma — It can include bullying based on homophobia, biphobia, transphobia, which is rooted in the fear of gay, bi, or trans people. LGBTQ+ members are sometimes victims of hate crimes simply because of their identity.
  • Substance abuse — Rejection and trauma can sometimes lead to substance abuse which occurs twice as often among LGB adults versus heterosexual adults. Transgender adults are four times more likely than cisgender adults (those whose gender identity match sex assigned at birth) to have substance abuse problems.

Aside from experiencing a higher rate of discrimination, LGBTQ+ people may have a harder time finding help for the emotional suffering brought on by discrimination. 82% of LGBTQ+ youth surveyed reported a desire to engage in mental health care services. Of those surveyed, however, 60% were unable to access care. Common obstacles included concerns with parental permission, health care costs, and the fear of having their sexual orientation discovered by others who may not support them.

Couple Hugging In The Kitchen

By the numbers

LGBTQ+ youth often struggle to maintain hope and cope with discrimination, according to the results of the 2022 national survey by The Trevor Project. The organization, which is focused on suicide prevention among gay and trans young people, surveyed nearly 34,000 people ages 13-24 across the U.S. Key findings include:

  • 45% of LGB youth have seriously considered suicide in the past 12 months. 14% did attempt suicide.
  • 20% of transgender and nonbinary youth have attempted suicide.
  • LGBTQ+ youth of color experienced higher rates of attempted suicide than their white peers – 16% of Latino youth, 19% of Black youth, and 21% of Native youth compared to 12% of white youth. 
  • Less than one third of transgender and nonbinary youth lived in homes they felt were gender-affirming.
  • 93% of transgender and nonbinary youth worry that gender-affirming care will be denied through local or state laws, while 83% fear losing the right to play sports with their peers.
  • 36% of LGBTQ+ youth report being physically threatened or harmed because of their identity.
  • Love and acceptance make a massive difference: LGBTQ+ youth who experienced acceptance and emotional support from their families, schools, or communities had lower rates of attempted suicide.
Couple lgbtq mental

Getting the right help

There are supportive, compassionate mental health providers serving the LGBTQ+ community. When looking for a mental health professional, it’s important to first consider a few things. You may want someone who shares specific parts of your identity. You may want a provider who is competent in LGBTQ+ issues. Transgender patients may need a mental health professional to write a letter of support for gender-affirming medical care or for basic changes to legal documents.

You will also want to gather referrals. Find local community centers or health centers, or other supportive and affirming organizations to make recommendations. Then, armed with that information, make the call to get the help you need. 

Supporting you at AltaMed

You are not alone. AltaMed is here to help you grow proud. Our Behavioral Health team is available to provide short-term therapy to help you overcome many immediate challenges. We can also connect you with mental health services if you need long-term therapy. For additional help finding mental health resources, visit CalHOPE.

There are Licensed Clinical Social Workers who speak English and Spanish available in our Los Angeles County and Orange County locations.

To learn more about our services, call us today at (855) 425-1777.

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LGBT Pride

Supporting the LGBTQ+ Community Year Round

June is a time to celebrate the LGBTQ+ community’s strides in civil rights and liberation as well as commemorating those lost in current and previous generations to hate, ignorance, and intolerance. It’s also a good time to examine the nuanced needs of the LGBTQ+ community, especially when it comes to health care, and how we as a community can make access to resources for all a reality.

Cultural stigma and in large part ignorance about the LGBTQ+ community has been one of the biggest hurdles in this journey. One vivid example of this still remembered and commemorated during Pride month is the AIDS epidemic. Health officials first became aware of AIDS in the summer of 1981, and by 1985 AIDS had already ravaged the United States for four years. Only then did President Ronald Raegan publicly acknowledge the AIDS epidemic that had already affected at least 15,527 people and killed more than 12,529.

While there has been some progress in recent years for more inclusive health care, there has also been a surge of dangerous efforts to undermine that progress in recent administrations of national and state government. AltaMed continues to provide services and work toward eliminating the disparities that affect the LGBTQ+ community and other marginalized groups.

Addressing disparities

Boys at the beach

The LGBTQ community is identified as a “health disparity population” by the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities.

Systemic prejudice has historically kept many from receiving the care they need — from basic services like mental health to more complex treatments like care related to gender reassignment therapy and so much more. The issues are complex, and numbers are staggering.

According to Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine:

  • LGBTQ Youth are four times more likely than straight youth to make a suicide attempt requiring medical attention.
  • LGBTQ Americans face an increased risk of violent attacks due to their sexual and gender status.
  • Nearly three-fourths of transgender people have been the victims of discrimination when seeking health care.
  • One in five transgender people have been denied care by a provider.
  • Transgender people are twice as likely to be unemployed compared to cisgender individuals.
  • Transgender people of color are four times as likely to be unemployed.
  • Mental health coverage for the LGBTQ community has decreased despite the increased need for mental health support.
  • Trans women of color account for four out of five anti-trans homicides.

Allies can offer support by working to understand the issues that disproportionately affect the LGTBQ+ community and continue to deconstruct the cultural stigma that still exists.

STI care, prevention, and support

Guys Hugging on the Street

While anyone can contract HIV, most new cases each year are among gay and bisexual men according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. There are disparities here as well, with Black and Hispanic gay and bisexual men representing the majority of new diagnoses. Gay and bisexual men ages 13 to 34 also represent the majority of new cases each year. But like any sexually transmitted infection (STI), HIV is completely preventable.

There are new and numerous ways to prevent the transmission of STIs, HIV, and Hepatitis C, yet this increased risk is largely due to our education system’s shortcomings in effective sexual education. In addition to health education and information, AltaMed offers condoms, rapid HIV testing, STI screening, pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), and post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP). Our HIV prevention specialists make these available and explain how all these options can minimize your risk and benefit your health.

AltaMed is one of the largest HIV service providers in Los Angeles and Orange counties serving more than 2,000 patients. Our multicultural and bilingual physicians and staff can help you explore your care options so you can make the best decisions that support your sexual health and overall well-being. AltaMed provides eligible patients with medical services, medications, and other important health and community resources at low or no cost.

If you are looking for ways to reduce your risk for HIV or if you received an HIV diagnosis and need help starting and stay in care, call our Patient Service Center in Los Angeles County at (323) 869-5448 or Orange County at (714) 500-0491.

More than 50 years in the community

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AltaMed was founded on the idea that everyone should have access to affordable care that’s close to home and reflects their community. That care is available to everyone, regardless of whom they love, how they identify, or where they come from.

Our dedicated team of caring and experienced professionals are here to provide communities with a lifetime of care. We build partnership with community organizations, elected officials, schools, and more to build communities that are better places to live, work, and play.

Follow this link to get started with AltaMed today.

Doctor And Patient Minority Health Month

Diverse Communities Need Care that Meets Their Diverse Needs

 This April, we hope you’ll join us to observe National Minority Health Month. The month-long initiative is geared toward building general awareness of common health conditions and risks that affect minority and ethnic populations. Besides engaging health care providers to offer more culturally sensitive and equitable care, the initiative also encourages individuals to take control of their health. When we learn about the conditions that may be more likely to affect us, we can make sure to schedule regular screenings and doctor visits.

Woman at Doctor's Appointment

Conditions That Are Genetic

In large part, your health is determined by the choices you make. Over time, decisions like whether to snack on a piece of fruit or a slice of cake, or go to sleep at the same time every night or stay up late to watch TV can have a significant impact. But some health conditions seem to run in families – and there are even diseases that are common depending on your ethnic background.

African Americans, for example, are at greater risk for sickle-cell disease. According to the  American Kidney Foundation, the Asian, Pacific Islander, and African American communities are at higher risk for gout.

One group providing the most remarkable example of the relationship between genetics and diseases are eastern European Jews. They are susceptible to a number of rare disorders like Bloom syndrome and Tay-Sachs disease, but they are also at increased risk for many cancers. All thanks to genetics.

Knowing your family history and having regular checkups and health screenings are key factors in the early detection of these conditions. Working with a trusted provider can help reduce your risks.

Doctor Taking Blood Pressure to a Patient

Cultural and Lifestyle-Related Conditions

Some chronic health conditions and illnesses seem to disproportionately affect certain populations who don’t have a clear-cut genetic risk. For example, both Latinos and African Americans are more likely to have obesity and complications related to diabetes. Even though unhealthy lifestyle choices may be partially to blame, some of those choices are affected by long-term systemic inequities — unequal access to care, limited access to fresh, healthy produce, or lack of doctors who understand the unique health and cultural concerns of their patients.

Additionally, African Americans often live with diseases that don’t affect whites until they’re much older, such as high blood pressure and strokes. Latinos are also more likely to struggle with issues that include high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

AltaMed is working to address many of the health disparities that make these conditions all too common in our communities. However, you can still take action to protect yourself: exercise, eat a healthy diet that includes a colorful variety of fruits and vegetables, and see your doctor and dentist for regular screenings.

Two Women Sitting Talking

Beyond Physical Health

Mental health goes hand-in-hand with physical health when talking about overall wellness. Minority populations often won’t seek out mental health services because of a perceived stigma.

According to the 2017 California Well-Being Survey, most Asian-Americans reported a high level of self-stigma related to mental health, and Hispanics reported higher self-stigma than whites. Hispanics said they were also more likely to conceal mental illness from coworkers and classmates than whites. And socioeconomic issues keep Black Americans and Latinos from completing substance abuse programs more often than whites. But AltaMed provides services to help all populations deal with behavioral health and substance abuse issues.

Culturally Sensitive Care and Much More

When it comes to helping minority and ethnically diverse communities grow healthy, good care is only part of the equation. That’s why we are involved in local programs that support the creation of good-paying jobs, markets where people can buy fresh and healthy foods, and social services that help each individual achieve their potential.

To make an appointment with an AltaMed doctor and learn how to combat your potential health risks, call us at (888) 499-9303.

Addressing Mental Health Issues in the LGBTQ+ Community