LGBTQ+ Community: Improving the Current State of Equality and Access to Care in the U.S.
Written by Ray Sabharwal
From lack of resources and discrimination to cyberbullying, many members of the large LGBTQ+ community in the United States face significant challenges in their struggle for equality. Unfortunately, American LGBTQ+ centers are also facing problems and are struggling to stay afloat. These challenges have only been intensified by the COVID-19 pandemic, bringing a whole new set of pressures on a community already under stress.
LGBTQ+ Community and Mental Health
The stress and trauma LGBTQ+ individuals face can take a toll on their mental and physical well-being, and can also impact their employment. When surveyed, 52% of respondents said their psychological well-being has been negatively affected due to discrimination. Some of the psychological issues that members of the LGBTQ community can face at home and in the workplace include:
- Coming out
- Substance use
- Inadequate mental health care available
Ensuring these barriers are acknowledged, accounted for, and addressed can lead to better outcomes for LGBTQ+ individuals, as well as the social service organizations that serve the LGBTQ+ community.
Connecting the Right Service with the Right Individual
The National Alliance on Mental Illness outlines the steps to find the right help based on individual criteria. Here’s a summary that LGBTQ+ agencies and organizations can pass onto their new clients.
First, your clients must ask themselves what type of support they’re looking for and start thinking of any referrals they may need. They should also become familiar with what coverage they have, with respect to government aid, insurance, and other funding sources. The next step, which is often considered the most difficult step, is to make the call and book their initial appointment. Clients should understand that they may have to go through many initial calls and questions to find the right care provider. Once they find a provider that’s the right fit, they can ask questions and get involved in their care to ensure they receive the best possible service. Finally, it’s important to help your clients understand that they need to be open to building a relationship, as their provider will be a professional they’ll be seeing often and trusting with private information.
LGBTQ+ Center Success Story!
Teams at Athena Software have worked with many agencies that provide support and guidance to members of the LGBTQ+ communities. The flexibility and scalability of Penelope cloud-based client management software has allowed a wide range of social service and nonprofit organizations to use Penelope to serve their clients safely and securely.
Like many organizations, the LGBTQ Center Long Beach in California has had to stop providing in-person services in March 2020. With a sizeable and vulnerable community to serve, they had to find a way to continue providing services remotely and securely. Ismael Salamanca, Director of Health Services at The LGBTQ Center Long Beach, recently shared their journey with Penelope and how the system’s Engage platform helped ease the process of pivoting to virtual care by allowing clients to fill out consent or screening forms remotely.
Watch the recorded discussion between Ismael Salamanca of The LGBTQ Center Long Beach and a Penelope expert, and engage with the panelists on the challenges your organization may be facing. Or if you’re unable to participate, book a complimentary consultation with a Penelope Expert and learn how Penelope can help your organization survive and thrive during COVID-19 and beyond.
How Athena Software Can Support Your Organization
We at Athena understand that finding stable financing is hard and we recognize and empathize with the fact that LGBTQ+ organizations are usually last on the list of reliable funding sources. But we’re here to help offer you at least part of the solution – a case management software that is affordable and will allow you to access the business intelligence insights needed to go after bigger grants and grow their impact. We’ll work with you on a payment plan that’ll fit your budget.
Penelope’s client engagement features are designed to ease the intake and communication process, and help all parties stay connected and informed, even during times when social distancing measures mean face-to-face meetings are not viable.
For example, Penelope’s ClientConnect module is a mobile client portal that provides clients with a private and secure way to connect with your organization and the services you provide. This includes the ability to check messages from their providers, request and schedule appointments, pay online, or even update their profile information.
Another example is Add.Me, a secure and configurable web form that lets your clients add themselves to your Penelope database, saving time for staff and making sure clients can self-register for services securely online. In addition, Engage is a client communications tool that allows your staff to send service-related emails or text messages directly to clients and allows the clients to securely complete documentation on their computers or mobile devices!
In addition to saving valuable staff time and reducing data entry errors, these tools are designed to ensure your organization can continue offering your services remotely while staying safe, even during the pandemic.
Some LGBTQ+ Community Facts
Here at Athena Software, we recognize that over 11 million people in the US self-identify as L,G, B or T, and 2 or 3 times that number have had same-sex attractions or encounters. We also know that many of these people face significant struggles for social equity whether it be at home, at school, or in the workplace.
- Approximately 1 in 3 LGBTQ+ Americans faced discrimination of some kind in the past year, based on their orientation and/or gender identities
- According to American Progress, more than 15% of LGBTQ+ Americans claim to have avoided medical treatment due to fear of being discriminated against
- American Progress also reported that LGBTQ+ Americans have experienced significant mental health issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic, and about two thirds have said that they are anxious about the possibility that they or one of their loved ones will get the coronavirus
If you or someone you know is part of the LGBTQ+ community and needs someone to talk to, contact one of the following national hotlines within the United States:
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255)
- The Trevor Project (866-488-7386, for LGBTQ+ youth ages 13-24)
- The Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender National Hotline (1-888-843-4564)
- Trans Lifeline (1-877-565-8860)