LGBTQA Health Conference

Human Services Center, Family Based Program Director, Brenda Bacich, is participating in this year’s conference.  HSC is one of the largest behavioral health care providers in Western Pennsylvania and we want to ensure that we are providing appropriate services and supports to all community members.  This skill based conference will focus on issues related to behavioral health and the LGBTQA community.

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and asexual (LGBTQA) individuals face challenges when accessing and receiving care that may lead to preventable adverse health outcomes. A Healthy People 2020 report found LGBTQA youth are 2 to 3 times more likely to attempt suicide, more likely to be homeless, and have a higher risk of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). In addition, LGBTQA populations have the highest rates of tobacco, alcohol and other drug use. Transgender individuals experience a high prevalence of HIV/STD, victimization, mental health issues, and suicide. Gay and bisexual men have higher chances of major depression, bipolar disorder, and anxiety disorder compared to other men.

In 2015 the National Survey on Drug Use and Health added two questions on sexual orientation (sexual identity and sexual attraction). That year’s study found that sexual minority adults were more likely to have any mental illness, serious mental illness, and/or major depressive episodes. During the study year, 26.4% of those identifying as sexual minority adults received mental health services compared to 13.7% of adults identifying as sexual majorities. While this was the first year for the data collection by SAMHSA (Substance Abuse ad Mental Health Services Administration), additional years of data will allow them to track this issue over time.

The Centers for Disease Control recommends the perspectives and needs of LGBTQA people should be routinely considered in public health efforts to improve the overall health of every person and eliminate health disparities. In addition to considering the needs of LGBTQA people in programs designed to improve the health of entire communities, there is also a need for culturally competent medical care and prevention services that are specific to this population. Social inequality is often associated with poorer health status, and sexual orientation has been associated with multiple health threats. Members of the LGBTQA community are at increased risk for a number of health threats when compared to their heterosexual peers [1-5]. Differences in sexual behavior account for some of these disparities, but others are associated with social and structural inequities, such as the stigma and discrimination that LGBTQA populations experience.

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