Executive Director’s Message: June is Pride Month
The LGBTQ+ rights movement has made some significant strides since its start with the Stonewall Uprising of 1969. Still, I always find myself asking, are we doing enough?
In 2011, a study reported that the harassment, discrimination and negative feelings about homosexuality that Black gay and bisexual men and trans women experience contributes significantly to mental health disorders such as depression and anxiety. Most of the men surveyed said that both race and sexuality play a part in their experiences of discrimination and harassment. Ten years later — when advancement was expected — a local survey found that only one in three Black people in L.A. County who need mental health services receives them. In fact, Black adults are the least likely of any racial or ethnic group to seek mental health treatment. It’s worse for Black people who identify as LGBTQ+. In fact, gender non-conforming Black youth are significantly less likely to receive professional care when needed.
Why are Black LGBTQ+ people still underserved in 2023? As they say, ‘it’s complicated’. This population faces multiple intersectional and structural adversities linked to their sexual orientations, gender identities, and racial identities. As racially marginalized people, Black individuals already face biased policies and systems for housing, jobs, places of leisure, and health care. As part of the LGBTQ+ community, they have an even greater likelihood of receiving unfair treatment linked to their sexual, gender, and racial identities.
Past acts of dehumanization and oppression in America have led to systemic racism, fueling public distrust of formal systems for marginalized Black people. The lack of Black mental health professionals, especially LGBTQ+ professionals, is another treatment barrier. Data from the American Psychiatric Association shows that only 2% of the estimated 41,000 psychiatrists in the U.S. are Black, and just 4 % of psychologists are Black. We can only imagine how few Black LGBTQ+ mental health professionals are available. Stigma is yet another factor. Many L.A. CADA patients tell us that there is an expectation in Black communities that the family should serve as the primary “safety net” in addressing mental health needs. Subjecting a vulnerable family member to mental health treatment can be seen as rejection of the family member and ultimately bring ‘shame and guilt to the family name.’
Yes, more must be done to achieve behavioral healthcare equity. L.A. CADA is here in the trenches, working to add more Black and sexual minority healthcare professionals to our workforce, and to design services that provide Black LGBTQ+ affirming care. Call us if you want help: (562) 906-2676.