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Mental Health as an Advocacy Priority in the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Communities


Journal of Psychiatric Practice®: May 2014 - Volume 20 - Issue 3 - p 225–227
doi: 10.1097/01.pra.0000450322.06612.a1
COLUMNS: Advocacy

This column reviews the evolution of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) mental health advocacy in relation to modern mental health advocacy efforts. In addition to developments in organized psychiatry (e.g., American Psychiatric Association’s LGBT caucus), grassroots LGBT community initiatives are playing an important role (e.g., Trevor Project providing crisis intervention/suicide prevention services to LGBT youth, face-to-face mental health services in LGBT community centers). Studies have found that LGBT individuals are at increased risk for mental health problems (e.g., depression, anxiety, substance misuse, suicidal ideation, self-harm). Mental health advocacy in the LGBT community has been slowed by the long-standing association of the concept of homosexuality with psychopathology in mainstream psychiatry (e.g., homosexuality was only removed from the DSM in 1973, ego dystonic homosexuality still appears in the ICD-10). However, positive developments in LGBT mental health advocacy have been fostered by the proposed minority stress model (i.e., that elevated risk of mental illness in LGBT individuals is a consequence of a hostile stressful environment). A particularly encouraging initiative is the It Gets Better Project, in which thousands of videos, some by prominent individuals, have been posted online to send a message of hope to LGBT youth facing harassment and low self-esteem. (Journal of Psychiatric Practice 2014;20:225–227

Anand Pandya, MD: Associate Professor of Clinical Medicine, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences, UCLA School of Medicine, Los Angeles, CA.

Sources of support: Dr. Pandya works as a consultant for the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

© 2014 by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.