OPINION: Mental healthcare is out of reach for those who need it most. We’re trying to change that.

OPINION: Mental healthcare is out of reach for those who need it most. We’re trying to change that.

Photo Courtesy of Getty Images / FG Trade

By Jimenez Zayro

June 21, 2024

evolvedMD is taking a stand—not just during PRIDE month, but every month, by breaking down the barriers that many LGBTQIA+ individuals face when it comes to accessing mental health services.

At a time when rapidly changing laws and healthcare standards across the country are only increasing the need for accessible behavioral health services among the LGBTQIA+ community, evolvedMD is taking a stand—not just during PRIDE month, but every month, by breaking down the barriers that many LGBTQIA+ individuals face when it comes to accessing mental health services.

 

The American Psychiatric Association reports that members of the LGBTQIA+ community are more than twice as likely as heterosexual men and women to have a mental health disorder in their lifetimes.

 

Yet, the LGBTQIA+ community often experiences additional barriers to accessing mental health care. Some may feel like a provider doesn’t understand their sexual orientation or identity; others could face discrimination, or get caught up in the gaps caused by the ongoing shortage of mental health professionals. That doesn’t even touch on financial barriers:, mental health services can be costly, ranging from $150-200 per visit.

 

These negative experiences associated with health care can have an impact for years to come. In KFF’s 2023 Racism, Discrimination, and Health Survey,  24% of LGBTQIA+  reported a negative healthcare experience in the past three years, causing their health to get worse. They were also 39% less likely to seek healthcare and 36% chose to switch providers. 

 

“Throughout my life, I haven’t always felt like I could be myself. Growing up on the border in Nogales, I didn’t feel like I had a safe space to come out as gay and be authentically me,” said Zayro Jimenez, evolvedMD Behavior Health Manager. “People calling out my flamboyant behavior further pushed me to internalize my feelings and even isolate myself. No one deserves to feel uncomfortable being their authentic selves, so I coped by offering a listening ear to relatives, friends, and peers in need — to hear the unheard.”

 

Jimenez is far from alone.  According to the State of Mental Health in America report, more than half of LGBTQIA+ respondents reported facing cases of providers denying care, using harsh language, or blaming the patient’s illness on their sexual orientation or gender identity.

 

Now, Jimenez and the rest of the care team at evolvedMD are helping members of the LGBTQIA+ community find support in times of stress, anxiety, and depression through actions like:

  •       Integrating behavioral health with physical health to treat the whole patient in one setting, increasing access to care.
  •       Creating safe and supportive environments where LGBTQIA+ identifying patients can be themselves.
  •       Finding and working with providers who are allies to the community.
  •       Ensuring providers have access to educational resources to better understand patients and the challenges that come with caring for members of the community.
  •       Providing resources for medical assistance and legal matters to individuals who need additional support.

 

evolvedMD is dedicated to reducing stigma and normalizing the ability to seek help with mental health care. In 2023, the company served nearly 21,000 patients and their families who either did not have access to affordable mental health care or felt discouraged from seeking help.

 

To learn more about evolvedMD and how the team is spearheading the integration of behavioral health services into primary care, or to find a provider in your area, visit evolvedmd.com.

 

Related: These 3 LGBTQ+ sports leagues are taking off in Arizona

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CATEGORIES: LGBTQ
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