Harrisburg, PA - Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine today testified before the state’s Mental Health Caucus and LGBTQ Equality Caucus about the issue of mental health within the LGBTQ population.
“The LGTBQ community faces unique health care needs, and access to mental health treatment without stigma is among the most pressing,” Dr. Levine said. “As part of the Governor’s Reach Out PA: Your Mental Health Matters campaign, we want everyone to feel comfortable speaking about their mental health. Understanding that it is okay to not feel okay is essential as we work to establish a healthy Pennsylvania for all.”
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, LGB adults are more than twice as likely to experience a mental health condition compared to heterosexual adults. Additionally, lesbian, gay or bisexual-identifying high school students are five times more likely to attempt suicide compared to their heterosexual peers. Strikingly, nearly 50% of all transgender adults have considered suicide in the last year, compared to 4% of the overall U.S. population.
In Pennsylvania, the data further reflects the need for LGBTQ individuals to have access to mental health resources. The 2018 LGBT Health Needs Assessment, conducted by the department, showed that nearly 93% of respondents under age 25 have experienced a mental health condition in the past 12 months. Nearly 58% of respondents under age 21 reported receiving psychological or psychiatric counseling or treatment from a doctor or other health care professional for a mental health condition or problem related to emotions such as depression, anxiety, stress or suicidal ideation.
The department funds programming for LGTBQ youth between the ages of 14-21 at several locations across the state. Services provided include:
Mental health screenings;
Suicide risk screenings;
Substance abuse screenings;
Rapid HIV testing;
Sexually transmitted infection screening;
Risk reduction counseling; and
Healthy eating education.
Earlier this month, Governor Tom Wolf announced a focused, all-agency effort and anti-stigma campaign called, Reach Out PA: Your Mental Health Matters, aimed at expanding the resources and comprehensive support of mental health and related health care priorities in Pennsylvania.
The department will conduct a review of the current network adequacy process to ensure that consumers enrolled in the Medicaid program and commercial insurance products have access to mental health care providers when services are necessary and without prohibitive costs.
For more information on LGTBQ health, visit the Department of Health’s website at www.health.pa.gov or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
MEDIA CONTACT: Nate Wardle, 717-787-1783 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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