Telehealth has increased access to quality health care. And there’s an opportunity, as a result, for broader access to mental health treatment. More people are also beginning to understand how a person’s emotional and physical well-being go hand-in-hand.
Finding a mental health care practitioner can seem daunting, and it’s important to get it right.
Nearly 1 million adults in Tennessee have a mental health condition. And a recent Vanderbilt University Medical Center poll shows that 1 in 4 parents are worried their children have certain undiagnosed mental health problems.
WellTuned spoke with Julie Butterfield, a behavioral health clinical operations manager for BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee, to get tips for finding inclusive mental health care.
Inclusivity in mental health care: the facts
There are many contributing factors behind the need for inclusive mental health treatment. This is especially true for historically underserved groups, including the LGBTQ+ community. According to Mental Health America the most common factors among underserved communities lending to metal health needs are:
- Facing health disparities linked to stigma and discrimination
- Being more likely to be harassed, experience violence or homelessness because of their identity
Within the LGBTQ+ population:
- Nearly 40% of the LGBTQ+ community— 5.8 million people in the U.S. — report experiencing a mental health concern of some kind.
- Bisexual and transgender communities have the highest rates of mental health concerns
- LGBTQ+ Teens are 6x more likely to experience depression than non-LGBTQ+ teens
- 45% of LBGTQ+ youth have seriously considered suicide in the past
- Many in the LGBTQ+ population are part of a second marginalized community, such as:
- people of color,
- those who have a disability,
- practice a religion different from their neighbors, and/or
- have a low socioeconomic status.
As you can see from those variables, LGBTQ+ people can have complex experiences that can’t be easily addressed in just one area of their life. That makes getting mental health care more challenging and more important.
“One positive thing is that studies show most LGBTQ+ individuals are incredibly resilient and capable of thriving if they have supportive families, communities or peers,” Julie says.
3 tips for finding inclusive mental health care
1. Shop around
Butterfield: I’m a therapist who goes to therapy, so I know the importance of finding someone you trust. It’s hard enough to open up about sensitive matters when you do feel comfortable with someone; don’t waste any time on a provider you don’t connect with in a way that works for you.
Trust your intuition, and shop around. It’s your right to discontinue a mental health session at any point if you don’t feel comfortable. Whatever you do, don’t keep going back to a provider who’s not the right fit for you.
For WellTuned’s complete guide to finding inclusive health care, click here.
2. Start local
Butterfield: When it comes to finding a therapist, I suggest looking for resources from your local LGBTQ+ organization. For example, here in the MidSouth, OUTMemphis is my starting point for all information and resources.
For the Tennessee Justice Center’s list of LGBTQ+ health resources in different regions of the state, click here.
3. Explore virtual options
Butterfield: See if your local community center has any LGBTQ+ programs or resources. If they don’t, consider telehealth. Virtual therapy can be very effective, and many insurance providers, including BlueCross, are more likely to cover it now, since COVID.
Get more information about specific health terms, topics and conditions to better manage your health on bcbst.com. BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee members can access wellness-related discounts on fitness products, gym memberships, healthy eating and more through Blue365®. BCBST members can also find tools and resources to help improve health and well-being by logging into BlueAccess and going to the Managing Your Health tab.