One of the most discussed issues in the contemporary healthcare setting is the increased mental health issues that affect members of the LGBTQ+ community and the apparent lack of targeted interventions to curb the phenomenon. Members of the community still endure untold stigma and discrimination at home, neighbourhoods, healthcare facilities, and workplaces. Such unbridled discrimination and stigma based on sexual orientation, sex, religion, or race is one of the leading causes of adverse mental health problems among people. Nevertheless, a lack enhanced access and care for the population makes it harder for such people to overcome their mental health problems.
The problem of stunted access to care for the mentally ill LGBTQ+ persons largely stems from the fact that most care professionals often do not receive targeted training on how to treat the population effectively. Paley (2021) observe that most medical school curricula exclude data concerning LGBTQ+ matters. The absence of awareness or training among care providers may cause them to underestimate or misdiagnose the severity of emerging mental health challenges in the LGBTQ+ population. Consequently, many healthcare professionals may lack the cultural sensitivity needed to care for mentally ill LGBTQ+ people.
There are several benefits to increasing access and quality of care to persons within the LGBTQ+ community. Mentally disturbed persons are a proven risk to any society (Jadwin-Cakmak et al., 2022). LGBTQ+ persons often undergo untold stress due to their lifestyles. Thus, the individual experiences enhanced fear, irritability, anger, confusion, decreased memory and concentration, and loss of a sense of humor (Moore et al., 2021). Thus, the individual suffers reduced quality of life and becomes a problem for those living around them. Therefore, improving healthcare access for such persons enhances their life quality and brightens the society around them.
There are numerous benefits of enhanced access to care for LGBTQ+ persons with mental health issues, as per various research sources. For one, mental health interventions reduce anxiety in people and improves their mood. The individual gains a better perspective of life and enjoys clearer thought processes as a result (Paley, 2021). There is also a greater sense of inner peace or calmness, improved relationships, lowered depression risks, and better self-esteem. Mental health services for the affected population go a long way in imparting vital coping skills in hostile environments.
Furthermore, science shows that LGBTQ+ persons experience greater risks of specific diseases that may result in mental issues (Fish, 2020). The diseases can have severe ramifications on mental health. Hence, it is essential to enhance access to care programs for the people in these categories so that they fully understand the challenges linked with their selected lifestyles (Jadwin-Cakmak et al., 2022). Offering early counselling services to LGBTQ+ persons enhances their communication and interpersonal skills. The clients develop more trust for their care providers and open up to them on a raft of issues, including stress, discrimination, mental health challenges, and safe sexual practices (Fish, 2020). Counselling improves the management of emotions and self-expression.
There are coaching techniques that can be highly therapeutic. The critical potential benefits of coaching for mentally challenged LGBTQ+ persons include improved time management, mind-set shifts, increased self-worth and self-reliance, gaining work and life satisfaction, and overcoming procrastination (Fish, 2020). The individuals also become better equipped to reduce their isolation (recluse) tendencies, simplify life, and strengthen their connection with care providers.
Evaluating an Opposing Piece
Despite the notable benefits of enhanced access to care for mentally challenged LGBTQ+ persons, many yet reckon that such efforts will avail little and even undo the milestones achieved within healthcare. One of the articles that outlines the challenges regarding improvement of access to health for LGBTQ+ is Sommarö et al.’s 2020 piece titled A deviation too many? Healthcare professionals’ knowledge and attitudes concerning patients with intellectual disability disrupting norms regarding sexual orientation and/or gender identity. The study conducted by Sommarö et al. (2020) shed light on some challenges plaguing the quest for enhanced care accessibility for mentally ill LGBTQ+ persons.
Sommarö et al. (2020) note that data from the Health Resources and Services Administration indicate a severe shortage of mental healthcare providers in many regions. Some rural areas have few to little general mental care professionals. Therefore, achieving specialization for the sake of LGBTQ+ persons may be a farfetched idea due to the existing shortages of caregivers. Moreover, the piece goes on to cite that private insurance plans and governments offer very little, if any, reimbursement plans for mental health specializations that may benefit the population. In some instances, some care settings only accept mental health patients that can pay out-of-pocket, making access to mental health services difficult to achieve. The few numbers of mental health workers would mean that specialization for LGBTQ+ purposes would leave other areas short, according to the opposing viewpoints.
There are significant financial challenges to mental healthcare that make better accessibility difficult to achieve. For example, the Affordable Care Act does not cover some essential features of mental health treatment, and the lack of financial resources continuously impedes the quest for timely interventions (Pachankis et al., 2021). Mental health services can prove quite costly even when made accessible to the community, leading to greater disparities especially among the more impoverished places. Also, the sources uses various literature reviews to argue that the social stigma associated with mental health conditions added to the discrimination against LGBTQ+ people makes it harder for the affected populations to seek help (Sommarö et al., 2020). According to the authors, such efforts would bear little fruit given the reluctance of members to pursue counselling due to established discrimination and stigmatization. Thus, such drives would be a waste of resources and an added strain to an already stretched care system.
Evidence from numerous pilot studies show that opposing all private and public discrimination due to gender expression, gender identity, or sexual orientation emboldens the LGBTQ+ to seek help. Policies and laws also facilitate for equal medical treatment for all persons, regardless of their perceived standing in the community. Mental health treatment should be available for all people without discrimination. As such, developing and implementing culturally competent curricula for medical courses will help enhance accessibility and suitability of care provided to the population. There is a need to enhancing government funding towards the training of mental health professionals to help bridge the wide patient to professional ratio (Pachankis et al., 2021). Moreover, insurance plans can undergo revisions that enable patients to obtain mental health services at affordable prices. Stakeholders should also partner with caregivers, patients, and communities to expand initiatives that combat barriers to mental care and reduce stigma.
Mental healthcare and access for LGBTQ+ persons remains a challenge in most parts of the world. The stigma associated with such lifestyles, the lack of effective insurance covers, and culturally incompetent care professionals make the quality and access to mental services poor. Despite the numerous challenges, pilot studies indicate a raft of interventions that can help remedy the situation, such as better insurance plans, legislations against discrimination, better training for medical professionals, training reimbursements, and vital partnerships with communities to reduce stigmatization. Enhancing access to mental healthcare for the population strengthens safety of societies and enhances the quality of life of affected persons.
Fish, J. N. (2020). Future Directions in Understanding and Addressing Mental Health among LGBTQ Youth. Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology, 49(6), 943–956. Web.
Jadwin-Cakmak, L., Lauber, K., Odhiambo, E. O., Collins, B., Gumbe, E., Norwitz, G. A., Aloo, T., Lewis, K. A., Okutah, F., Amico, K. R., Olango, K., Odero, W., Graham, S. M., & Harper, G. W. (2022). “When you talk it out … you will feel like the burden has somehow gone down, you will feel light”: Social Support Received by Gay, Bisexual, and Other Men Who Have Sex with Men in Western Kenya. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 19(3). Web.
Moore, K., Camacho, D., & Spencer-Suarez, K. N. (2021). A mixed-methods study of social identities in mental health care among LGBTQ young adults of color. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 91(6), 724–737. Web.
Pachankis, J. E., Clark, K. A., Jackson, S. D., Pereira, K., & Levine, D. (2021). Current Capacity and Future Implementation of Mental Health Services in U.S. LGBTQ Community Centers. Psychiatric Services, 72(6), 669–676.
Paley, A. (2021). Addressing the Flaws in our Mental Healthcare System Could Save Young LGBTQ Lives. Time.Com, N.PAG.
Sommarö, S., Andersson, A., & Skagerström, J. (2020). A deviation too many? Healthcare professionals’ knowledge and attitudes concerning patients with intellectual disability disrupting norms regarding sexual orientation and/or gender identity. Journal of Applied Research in Intellectual Disabilities, 33(6), 1199–1209. Web.