Current Capacity and Future Implementation of Mental Health Services in U.S. LGBTQ Community Centers

Psychiatr Serv. 2021 Apr 22;appips202000575. doi: 10.1176/appi.ps.202000575. Online ahead of print.

Abstract

Objective: Since the beginning of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) rights movement, LGBTQ community centers have been on the front lines of mental health care for sexual and gender minorities (SGMs) across the United States. However, little is known about what types of mental health services LGBTQ community centers currently offer and their anticipated future needs, including training in and delivery of evidence-based practice.

Methods: Sixty executive directors and chief executive officers of LGBTQ community centers across the United States completed a survey regarding their centers' current treatment capacity, format, and type as well as perceived future needs. Survey items were supplemented with qualitative questions about perceived barriers to and facilitators of strengthening the capacity of mental health services.

Results: Center directors perceived a high need for mental health care in their communities and strove to meet that need despite constrained resources. About half of the centers (52%) reported having fewer than five mental health staff; still, most reported providing support groups (98%) and individual psychotherapy (85%). Most centers (88%) reported providing general evidence-based care, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (62%), and all reported high support for their staff to receive training in more specific types of evidence-based, LGBTQ-affirmative care.

Conclusions: LGBTQ community centers continue to play an important role in supporting the mental health of SGMs. The centers also offer a significant opportunity to lead the way in addressing the substantial unmet mental health needs still facing this population by implementing evidence-based, LGBTQ-affirmative practice through efficient and cost-effective service delivery.

Keywords: Community mental health services; Evidence-based practice; Gender minority; Implementation science; LGTBQ; Sexual minority.