When dealing with marginalized and underserved populations, it is important to understand barriers to care and why they exist.
For patients who identify as part of the LGBTQ+ community, there can be barriers to accessing mental health services, which can affect the overall mental health status of those in this community. Although many individuals experience barriers when trying to access mental health services, such obstacles are often amplified in vulnerable, marginalized populations, resulting in greater health repercussions.
One APHA abstract1 aimed to determine the relationship between these barriers and overall mental health status of LGBTQ+ patients. In the study, mental health status was measured on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 meaning excellent. A total of 109 patients reported their mental health as good, very good, or excellent, and 147 patients reported it as poor or fair.
Patients who used mental health services had a higher mean score (2.61) than patients who did not (2.28); however, these scores remain low. Of the 105 participants who did not use mental health care services, 45% reported no need for services, 31% reported an inability to pay for the services, 21% reported a lack of trust, and 21% reported that providers are ineffective.
Among patients who did access mental health services, the top 3 indicators of higher mental health status were not delaying seeking care, strongly agreeing with the quality of care, and the feeling of being able to openly ask providers questions. “Understanding the causes of these barriers can lead to more effective organizational practices and policy development to ensure equity and inclusion in health care,” researchers concluded.
1. Schuller K, Crawford R, Young W. Relationship between access to mental health care and overall mental health status among patients identifying as LGBTQ+. Presented at: 2022 American Public Health Association Annual Meeting and Expo; November 6-9, 2022; Boston, MA.