If we’re serious about LGBTQ+ community wellbeing, we should work towards removing barriers to LGBTQ+ mental health care.
Recently, there has been an increase in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) community. The population has been increasing in tandem with increased rates of mental illness. These rates have significantly been attributed to high depression and anxiety rates. Unfortunately, the group has had barriers to accessing proper mental healthcare. The situation has worsened since the COVID-19 pandemic erupted as governments prioritized its management, leaving LGBTQ+ people to go through hardships.
However, like other groups, it is wise to know that LGBTQ+ mental wellness is essential. They have been experiencing inaccessible treatments and unprofessional mental support, leading to increased mental struggles. Proper handling of this community’s mental health reduces depression rates while building their self-esteem to fight stigmatization, discrimination, and rejection they may suffer from their colleagues.
This article will discuss some of the barriers limiting mental health care access by the community and why we should remove them.
Common Barriers to LGBTQ+ Mental Health Care
In many states, it is illegal for a teen or a child to access health facilities without the consent of their parents. They have usually termed minors (age12-16). Some states are now encouraging two parents to give their support.
It is a significant barrier to many children from accessing mental health care because some parents may be irresponsible, uncaring, or unsupportive due to their identity. Nevertheless, accessing a health facility for LGBTQ+ children without their parent’s involvement may be impossible. Parents should note that these privacy policies can be an enormous challenge if the children access mental health care without their knowledge.
Obtaining Health Insurance
Sometimes, the LGBTQ+ community can get unbiased and quality healthcare from professionals. However, many of them may not be able to get the services due to the cost. One of the solutions to this problem is to obtain health insurance coverage to take care of the cost when they visit a mental health facility. However, this isn’t easy as health insurance discrimination is still an issue in many states. Statistics show that at least four territories and 27 states haven’t adopted this policy.
The policy is essential in ensuring that all people, including the LGBTQ+ group, avoid health and mental wellness disparities. After all, they should have the same privilege to obtain health insurance coverage just like their counterparts. They should also be able to access quality, compassionate and unbiased health and mental care to ensure their mental wellbeing.
Sometimes, a teen may afford the cost of diagnosing their mental wellness and get the required consent from their parents to acquire the necessary services. However, this may be adversely not the case with the quality of healthcare they get from a mental health facility. It is mainly because LGBTQ+ people are fond of facing unfair treatment and discrimination. They are sometimes denied services they need, which affects them more. As a result, they become afraid and unwilling to visit a health facility to avoid such treatments and discrimination.
Sometimes, a physician offers services but uses discriminative language, creating a bad environment for LGBTQ+ youth. It is wise to note that quality services go hand in hand with the language you use with this group to guarantee wellness. Ideally, LGBTQ+ teens may have less esteem and experiences than their heterosexual fellows and may not have a solution when a health care facilitator discriminates and unfairly treats them.
Regular Changes to Healthcare Access
Recently, there has been an introduction and rise of telehealth. Giving services using telehealth has been easier for many LGBTQ+ children, especially those given consent from their parents. Telehealth involves accessing mental health care services remotely, where you can hold a conference or a call with the mental physician.
This is an excellent way to access the services for children who can’t drive themselves to a facility and have unsupportive parents. However, this has been a barrier to a more significant proportion too. Most of these teens live with their families and are denied the privacy they require to share their challenges with the service provider confidently. Some children won’t talk safely and speak about their gender and sexual identity at home, which is a natural barrier as they might end up not disclosing their problems as required.
Still, for a teen to acquire telehealth mental health services, they require a phone or a laptop and a stable network connection. This can’t be afforded by all of them and leaves many LGBTQ+ communities not taking care of their mental wellness.
Barriers to LGBTQ+ Mental Health Care – COVID-19 Prevalence
COVID-19 prevalence has seriously affected people’s mental well-being, including the LGBTQ group. Recent statistics show that 70% of LGBTQ+ teens have developed poor mental health during the covid-19 era. It also shows that only 1 in 3 LGBTQ teens would access better mental health care.
The pandemic forced the LGBTQ+ community to stay at home. These denied them access to support systems for mental care and interaction with friends, family, and other extracurricular activities.
The pandemic also led to a decline in mental physicians dealing with LGBTQ+ children. Health systems prioritized COVID-19 patients, and service providers were trained to look after them more than any other group of patients. It made it hard for the LGBTQ+ community to access mental health care. Finding an affirming, unbiased, and appropriate health facility for their needs was hard.
Removing Barriers to LGBTQ+ Mental Health Care – Bottom Line
As seen above, many barriers have continued to deny our LGBTQ+ youth access to the mental health facility they require. These have posed various challenges to their well-being and need to be handled collectively to provide a better environment for the LGBTQ+ community when seeking mental health care. A great urge should be advocated to remove these barriers to ensure the LGBTQ community has better access to qualified professionals to care for their mental wellness.