Taking Pride in Our Work with LGBTQ+ Populations

June 24th, 2024 | viewpoint


By Connor Griffiths, Program Coordinator

June is Pride Month, a time to celebrate the beautiful identities of our LGBTQ+ community. It is a time to uplift love and acceptance for one another while championing equality for all people, no matter how they identify or who they love. While we take time to recognize this important month, we want to highlight how our work in the U.S. supports equality and health equity for all.

The advancement of health equity must begin with understanding the health landscapes in which we work. JSI’s expertise in evaluation has helped us understand and respond to variations in health outcomes for LGBTQ+ individuals as compared to non-LGBTQ+ people. Research shows that LGBTQ+-identifying individuals are more than twice as likely than their heterosexual counterparts to experience a mental health disorder in their lifetime [1]. Specifically, they are 2.5 times more likely to experience depression, anxiety, and substance misuse [2]. There are also noted differences in rates of suicide attempts among LGBTQ+ individuals and variations related to intersectional identities that lead to staggering differences in both mental and physical health outcomes [3].

In 2022, for a first-of-its-kind needs assessment, we collaborated with Waves Ahead Puerto Rico, an organization that advocates for and provides services to “identify mental health needs of older adults, address existing inequalities related to mental health experienced by Puerto Rican LGBTQ+ people ages 50 and above, and establish and disseminate future policies, community actions, and research activities.” The study, conducted with over 450 participants, aimed to identify gaps in mental health services and pay special attention to the needs of the older LGBTQ+ population.

The ultimate goal of this work was to lay the groundwork for future research and policy implementation to improve mental health outcomes for this historically marginalized population. Findings from this multi-pronged assessment showed associations between age and mental health challenges, as well as an expressed desire for LGBTQ+ individuals to receive treatment from those who share some of their identities. Learn more about the findings from the needs assessment.

As a founding member of the National Coalition of LGBT Health, JSI has years of experience in this area, including with historic and ongoing needs assessments, largely supported and led by LGBTQ+ staff members. Beyond this work, our commitment to serving LGBTQ+ populations with dignity has remained strong across numerous technical and service areas, and our robust internal expertise is sought by partners across the United States.

While Pride Month is a time to celebrate, our efforts to support and uplift the LGBTQ+ community continue all year long. We are proud to do this work and proud to be JSI!

  1. https://www.psychiatry.org/psychiatrists/diversity/education/lgbtq-patients
  2. Ibid.
  3. Ibid.

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