A Place to Nourish your Health (APNH) is seeking to expand its services to support those individuals in the New Haven area experiencing stigma related to gender identity, sexual orientation, addiction, and mental health. Because LGBTQ individuals experience higher rates of mental health challenges and substance use disorders when compared to their heterosexual counterparts, there is a demonstrated interest in investigating tailored solutions which better adhere to the specific needs of this group. Given these disparities in mental health, it is crucial that the LGBTQ population have access to quality services. However, LGBTQ individuals face barriers to accessing mental health care due to service affordability, availability, and/or lack of LGBT-inclusivity. In the New Haven area, these impacts are exacerbated as behavioral health services are limited. Services that are available could be more inclusive of all gender and sexual identities, working with providers and staff to avoid stereotype biases.
Given the importance of strengthening behavioral health services to the LGBTQ population, APNH will use the findings from this project to provide insights from community leaders and providers looking to expand services for those experiencing stigma.
Qualitative Data Collection:
…But one thing that's unique to every LGBTQ person, to some extent, whether or not, they experienced it only from a smaller scale to a larger scale is every LGBTQ person spends at least part of their life worrying that people around them will stop loving them. And particularly their parents and siblings and family and very close friends.
[In regard to dating apps]… They can either be a good thing where you go in there and you find the validation you want… But the apps have been leading a lot of people into body dysmorphia because once they stop receiving that validation that they were receiving...
… people have a hard time finding appropriately trained providers and they get frustrated and they give up on engaging in mental health services. So, obviously, it’s a two-fold problem that there’s a lack of access and then people are getting frustrated that they decided just to not engage all together.
Key Sources of Stigma:
Three different levels of stigma were identified by both key informants and focus group participants to negatively impact mental health outcomes for LGBTQ individuals, with providers particularly noting high rates of depression and anxiety among these populations:
Strategies to Cope with Stigma and Mental Health Challenges:
coping, whether at the individual level or community-level, may improve or negatively impact mental health outcomes. Participants described the following coping strategies employed by the LGBTQ community:
Barriers to Behavioral Healthcare:
Personal, interpersonal, and structural barriers abounded in preventing or hindering LGBTQ people from interacting with behavioral health providers. Participants described the following barriers to seeking and receiving care:
Consider offering a range of behavioral health services:
Staff and Provider practices