Those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning (LGBTQ+) often face social stigma, discrimination, and other challenges. These factors increase their risk for various substance use and mental health issues. National LGBT Health Awareness Week is “Out for Equity” in 2021, highlighting the need for ongoing engagement of the LGBTQ+ community on healthcare issues.
What Is National LGBT Health Awareness Week?
The goal of National LGBT Health Awareness Week is to raise awareness of routine and specialized care for people in the LGBTQ+ community. People who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning are at risk for not getting the level of care they need because of a fear of seeking out help or, more commonly, due to discrimination. National LGBT Health Awareness Week brings attention to the tragic cycle of discrimination and health inequities that affect LBGTQ+ people.
What Types of Concerns Exist for LGBT Health Awareness?
There are many ways in which limited access to care impacts this community. Here are some examples:
- Employment discrimination that limits access to jobs that provide health insurance.
- Unable to receive health insurance coverage from their partner due to harmful company policies.
- Increasingly high costs make many unable to afford vital preventative health care.
- Many of these individuals face social stigma and discrimination and, as a result, may not feel comfortable discussing their specific health needs.
- Disparities in the level of care received.
What Has to Change When It Comes to LGBT Health Disparities?
LGBT health awareness week provides resources to those looking to get involved and enact change in their communities. Below are some simple ways you can help in this effort of improving LGBTQ+ health:
- Encourage employers to recognize those within the community as viable partners in relationships who deserve the same type of health coverage given to others.
- Encourage state lawmakers to pass laws that encourage improved access to healthcare as well as affordable health insurance.
- Work to ensure your own practice, if you are a doctor or other medical provider, never discriminates against people who have different lifestyles or physical needs than others – eliminate all LGBTQ+ discrimination in your practice.
- Seek out care. Never be hesitant to find the support you need and want. Mental health is just as important as physical health. So, it is critical to take time to think about your needs and get any support necessary.
- Help someone who is LGBTQ+ struggling with their health to get the care they need. A donation, a trip to a doctor’s appointment, or just a bit of support can go a long way.
- If you know someone in the LGBTQ+ community is struggling with addiction and ready to get help, begin the journey to recovery by using the addiction treatment needs assessment tool.
Do you or someone you know need help finding addiction treatment in your area? The Treatment Connection website can help those in need find affirming care providers. There are many organizations, hospitals, medical providers, and treatment centers working hard to do their part to provide better access to standardized care for everyone.