How can you help LGBTQ people with mental health concerns?


Some people are more likely than others to live with a mental health disorder. Studies show that LGBTQ people are more than twice as likely to live with mental health disorders as heterosexual men and women.

Given the increased risks, protecting and enhancing the mental health of LGBTQ people is essential to their health and well-being.

LMHC Beth Chensi is the Chief Therapist at the Rochester Mental Health Center and GMHC Master’s Degree Alex Wilmeth is a Personalized Recovery Oriented Services (PROS) Clinician at Rochester Community Health. Both providers highlight some of the ways Rochester Community Health is providing positive mental health care to people when they need it most.

face higher risks

Because of their increased risk of suffering from mental health disorders, LGBTQ people are more likely than heterosexual men and women to experience substance use disorders and attempt suicide.

The reasons behind these increased risks are complex and numerous. Some of the reasons are due to the influence of social prejudices. Living in fear of being discriminated against, experiencing discrimination, seeing recently passed legislation denying access to gender-affirming health care, experiencing trauma. , homelessness, and other reasons all combine to lower a person’s self-esteem and lead to a state of hopelessness.

These feelings often lead to depression, increased anxiety, and other mental health conditions.

“We already live in a world where mental health is stigmatized. Those who are part of communities that face not only mental health stigma, but also racial, gender, and gender stigma, are heterosexual. You will face twice as much prejudice as anyone else,” Wilmes said.

How we provide positive care

As LGBTQ people seek treatment, Rochester Regional Health is committed to providing all patients with quality care that affirms them.

Tailored specifically for LGBTQ patients, our chemical addiction program has LGBTQ positive care approval from the Office of Addiction Services and Support (OASAS). Clinicians offer a range of LGBTQ-specific services to provide personalized, personalized care that helps patients progress toward recovery.

It is a priority to ensure that each patient’s pronouns and correct name are documented in the medical record and available to all behavioral health staff and members of the Rochester Community Health Team. Our behavioral health providers work closely with patients and other health care providers to make necessary recommendations for individuals seeking gender reassignment surgery.

To provide the best possible positive care, behavioral health staff work together to magnify the issues facing the LGBTQ community and share the tools they can use to help.

“It shouldn’t be the job of the LGBTQ community to teach the world how to treat them,” Chensi said. “This is why it is good for staff and therapists to educate themselves and each other on how to better support patients and provide positive care.”

The PROS program runs mental wellness groups that follow this positive CBT model. This allows patients to step into a space where they can discuss specific topics that may be difficult to discuss elsewhere, know that their pronouns are respected, and most importantly. Affects mental and physical health – Feeling validated and secure in one’s identity.

“We want our patients to be themselves in the session and to know that they are valued, heard and respected in a safe space,” Wilmes said. “No need to compartmentalize.”

find support

Encouraging social connection is a big step towards more reassuring mental and emotional health. In addition to the LGBTQ support network provided through Rochester Community Health, ROC LGBTQ Together and Trillium Health have support and social groups where people can come together, socialize and find common ground.

Some clinics and mental health facilities have bulletin boards with LGBTQ resources to help people get involved in their communities.

Patients in the LGBTQ community often feel isolated as they feel lonely and sometimes separated from their families. It helps a lot to be a source of stability and affirmation in one’s life.

“Studies show that having at least one affirming LGBTQ adult in your life significantly reduces your risk of self-harm,” Chensi said. “Being affirmed by adults can greatly reduce the negative effects on mental health.”



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