Stigma, discrimination, and victimization.
Lack of legal protections and violation of civil and medical rights.
Barriers to accessing compassionate, quality health care.
These are just some of the challenges members of the LGBTQ+ community face that can impact their mental health. Studies show that LGBTQ+ individuals are more than twice as likely as their heterosexual peers to experience a behavioral health disorder. Almost a third of LGBTQ+ youth reported that recent laws and policies targeting their community have had a substantial negative impact on their mental health over the past year. A staggering 41% of them have seriously considered suicide. A full 53% of older LGBTQ+ adults surveyed said they feel isolated; a situation experts estimate can shorten their lifespans by up to 15 years.
The issue is further exacerbated by the fact that many LGBTQ+ Americans feel unheard about getting help for their mental health concerns. In fact, 24% of LGBTQ+ Americans disclosed that a provider had blamed them for their health problems. “It raises the question, ‘Where does someone go if no one understands them or wants to work with them?’” says Corrine Jones-Williams, a behavioral health consultant specializing in serving the LGBTQ+ community at AvitaCare Atlanta.
Read on to learn how she and her colleagues are standing by to help and tips for finding a mental health provider who recognizes and respects LGBTQ+ patients’ individualized needs.
An “innate passion to help others”
Corrine is part of a small but mighty behavioral health team at AvitaCare Atlanta. Trusted in the community for over two decades, the medical center provides compassionate, comprehensive, and inclusive primary and mental health care, infectious disease, and pharmacy services to the greater Atlanta area, focusing on the LGBTQ+ community.
Working with the health care facility’s providers, Corrine and her colleague Ajani Johnson offer supported interventions and psychotherapy to interested patients. “Once they are referred, we connect with the patient to complete a formal introduction of what we do and discuss options for how we can support them,” she says. “If the patient decides to move forward, we complete a thorough assessment and recommend behavioral health services that best address their concerns.”
A licensed clinical social worker (LCSW), Corrine says she prides herself in seeing patients as people first. “I have an innate passion to help others,” she explains. She was attracted to working at AvitaCare Atlanta (an Avita Care Solutions company) because the organization is grounded in supporting the holistic wellness needs of each patient. “It’s uncommon for a smaller entity to provide all the services we do, and I wanted to be a part of building the behavioral health component,” she says.
Patients are noticing, Corrine says. “In many instances, they have expressed their appreciation for simply being heard and supported regarding the stressors of their daily life, as opposed to simply their physical health.”