My Platform on LGBTQ+
Mental Health Issues
and the APA
I am approaching this issue from my background as a medical ethicist, as well as a clinician.
• The APA needs more focused education on marginalized LGBTQ+ populations in medical student and residency training through encounters with psychiatrists who are LGBTQ+ leaders from the local community. Also, the APA needs to put on programs watching and discussing excellent media depictions of the mental health needs of this community, such as the FX series POSE.
•I want to improve partnerships between the APA and other advocacy/lobbying organizations at the state and national level to educate legislators about the current state-of-the-art understandings of LGBTQ+ persons, and the need for more targeted mental health resources for them.
• As a psychiatrist highly experienced with the media, I want the APA to make use of their excellent studio resources to recruit LGBTQ+ psychiatrists to do short video interviews about their personal experiences as persons with these preferences and how that informs their understanding of the mental health needs of others in this domain. These should be then posted on YouTube and social media that may be particularly accessible to young people.
•I will maintain the attention of the APA Board on the recent roll back in areas of LGBTQ+ human rights. I will insure that the APA is diligent in its opposition to marginalizing gays: e.g. allowing discrimination justified by religious belief and attacking transgender people with policies like those prohibiting them from military service.
• As a Trustee-at Large Board member I will have some influence on the scientific programing at our annual meetings. I will work with to the programing committee on the need to encourage and support scientific sessions on the mental health consequences on LGBTQ+ patients of emerging changes in laws and policies. Also I want to support recent APA initiatives on diversity and health equality.
* Psychiatrists need to be encouraged to make more inquiries into the possibility that they have an LGBTQ+ patient, as that is often unasked and unaddressed. This knowledge can reveal sources of stress and be an important lens in which a patient’s psychological suffering can be understood, both in their developmental years and as adults.
• Psychiatrists need more education about LGBTQ+ . This year, the APA President asked me to put on a symposium at the annual meeting in San Francisco, in recognition of the APA’s 175th anniversary, about some aspects of psychiatry’s history that were wrong turns and regrettable. That symposium, which I entitled ‘Dark Psychiatry,” included a talk by David Scasta MD about this particular part of American Psychiatry’s history and the APA’s evolution in its attitudes and understandings of homosexuality. This was an extremely helpful and lively symposium that illuminated many attendees.
• Understanding and treating LGBTQ+ issues must be in the common toolbox of all psychiatrists, and not considered primarily something to outsource to colleagues with a special interest and expertise. However, there may be times when such experts need to be consulted; it is important to know who those psychiatrists are in one’s community.