Acknowledges Mental Health Issues in the Queer Community
It’s no secret that there are a lot of issues with mental health in the queer community. Although each new day brings more acceptance of the reality behind mental health, not everyone is getting the help they need.
Between 44 and 70 percent of patients with mental disorders do not receive treatment, even in developed countries, and being queer adds another layer of barriers to getting help. Many queer folks are not comfortable going to doctors because of fear of judgement or being misgendered, and many do not have the resources to go get help. Additionally, alcohol and drugs are huge issues in the queer community, and many of those who need help turn to using substances as crutches instead.
Envision:You is taking a stand against these odds and focusing specifically on helping the queer community with addiction and mental health. Although still in its infancy, the organization has already met with Governor Jared Polis to ensure support for their work and are planning on implementing strategies to help the queer community during the coming year.
“During our recent meeting with Governor Polis, he demonstrated his administration’s commitment to improving the mental health of all Coloradoans including those in the LGBTQ+ community,” said Steven Haden of the Mental Health Center of Denver. “We are grateful for his leadership and support.”
“When you look at the statistics concerning LGBTQ+ behavioral health, it’s alarming,” he added.
According to Jerry Cunningham, executive director of the OUT FRONT Foundation, “The disproportionate impact mental illness and substance use disorders have on the LGBTQ+ community demand an increase in provider competency in addition to enhancing and expanding available services statewide. I believe it is imperative to further educate our community about these issues, connect individuals to helpful services, and increase the resources available to tackle this enormous problem.”
“The Mental Health Center of Denver is pleased to have the opportunity to support the work of the Envision:You initiative,” explained Haden. “We are dedicated to enhancing and expanding the services we provide the LGBTQ+ community and to working with other behavioral health centers and providers around the state to do the same.”
Envision:You are planning a summit in order to discuss how to best tackle these issues. The Colorado Behavioral Health and Wellness Summit is currently seeking proposals for keynote and workshop presentations on relevant and/or emerging topics in the behavioral health field including substance use and wellness programming.
The event is a collaboration between The Mental Health Center of Denver, the University of Denver, and Envision:You.
“The Summit will engage the Colorado community to break down silos statewide and to bridge gaps in communication and collaboration,” Nancy Lorenzon, director of pre-health advising, University of Denver, said. “Additionally, the Summit will feature a series of workshops and trainings focused on the LGBTQ+ community.”
In preparation for the Summit, Envision:You met with Governor Polis to discuss how best to gain community support. He offered his opinion on how issues near and dear to his heart, like full-day kindergarten, can positively impact mental health and the queer community.
“Overall, early identification and intervention are critical for behavioral health issues,” he said. “So, kids being in kindergarten and preschool helps ensure that the school, community, or parents are notified early if there is something going on. It can help save kids from unsafe environments as well as provide healthy, nutritious meals and address unmet mental health needs. Early childhood education is a key part of that.”
If you don’t know where to get mental health, substance use, or emotional help for yourself or someone you know, Colorado Crisis Services provides confidential and immediate support 24/7/365 on the phone, text, chat, or in person at one of their walk-in centers. Call 1-844-493-8255, or text “TALK” to 38255.
To learn more about Envision:You or to find other supportive resources, please visit envision-you.org.The Summit is scheduled October 21-25, 2019, on the campus of the University of Denver.
Photos by Veronica L. Holyfield