The Department of Health and Human Services has awarded $556,000 to Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine for an LGBT mental health internship program.
“Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) individuals experience unique health disparities. As a group, LGBT adults experience more mood and anxiety disorders, an elevated risk for suicide, and substance use as compared with heterosexual adults. LGBT people are more frequently the targets of stigma, discrimination, and violence because of their sexual- and gender-minority status,” the grant abstract said.
“LGBT adults have higher rates of smoking, alcohol use, and substance use than heterosexual adults, which leads to long-lasting effects on both the individual and the community. Health professionals with greater exposure to LGBT patients and formal education in LGBT Psychology are better able to provide competent care,” it said.
The program is considered to be the first of its kind to focus on pre-doctoral LGBT psychology training, according to the grant abstract.
“Health professionals with greater exposure to LGBT patients and formal education in LGBT Psychology are better able to provide competent care that improves long-term mental health outcomes, reducing the risk of suicide and substance abuse,” HHS spokesperson Martin Kramer told CNSNews.com.
“This is one of the first, if not the first, federally-funded training grants on LGBT health,” Brian Mustanski, an associate professor at the medical school and the researcher who helped secure the grant told U.S. News and World Report.
“In our proposal we really highlighted LGBT individuals,” he said, “and packaged that [group] as an under-served population.”
“This is an exceptional new opportunity as interns will get the benefit of working with some of the leading LGBT scholars and top clinicians in the country,” Mark Reinecke, chief of psychology at Feinberg School of Medicine, said in a statement.
CNSNews.com asked Kramer why it was advantageous for HHS to fund the grant despite the sequester.
“HRSA is authorized to provide grants to support the training of the health care workforce, which includes mental health professionals. The grant in question was one of 16 grants made to help train mental health professionals. All the grants – which are made to cover a three year period – were in the same general funding range amount,” Kramer said.
“The program is requesting $182,488 in year 1 to support the training of 3 additional interns in LGBT mental health care,” the grant announcement said.