Center to Focus on Improving Mental Health Among LGBTQ+ Communitiesby Annie Dankelson | Illustration by Margaret Hall
Transgender patients can experience their first disparity in health care as soon as they’re handed an intake form that includes choices only of “male” and “female.” Lesbian, gay or bisexual people can also face inaccurate assumptions from providers.
Stigma, discrimination and general lack of resources contribute to these and other inequities for LGBTQ+ populations—issues University of Maryland researchers are seeking to combat.
This fall, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is awarding the University of Maryland Prevention Research Center (UMD-PRC) in the School of Public Health funding to improve mental health and health care among LGBTQ+ communities. The center at Maryland will raise awareness, develop best practices and promote training for students and providers.
Founded in 2009 with a similar five-year CDC agreement and an emphasis on addressing HIV in Prince George’s County, the Prevention Research Center is shifting its focus to another urgent issue. LGBTQ+ individuals are more likely to have a mood or anxiety disorder or attempt or consider suicide than cisgender or heterosexual people, yet many have reported dissatisfaction with mental health care due to lack of acceptance and understanding.
“Health care and mental health care providers are often not prepared to sensitively address these issues,” says Bradley O. Boekeloo, UMD-PRC director. “We’d like to more broadly publicize the relationship of stigma to the mental health of LGBTQ+ populations and further understand mental health concerns.”
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