The progress that has been made in the last twenty years within society’s acceptance of the LGBTQ community has been a huge benefit to many individuals. However, there are still disparities to be met among older generations. LGBTQ seniors have been turned away and misunderstood by mental health services for decades and repairing the damage within this community takes a collaborative effort. In fact, LGBTQ older adults have higher levels of psychological distress as compared to older adults in general. Even small efforts to welcome the LGBTQ communities makes a substantial difference for older adults who may expect to be unwelcomed or perceive that they will be. Community acceptance and unconditional support are characteristics of mental health treatment that have not included LGBTQ individuals for very long so making a new statement that includes gay, lesbian, and trans seniors shows cultural change and can begin repairing years of social discrimination which we at The Center hope to do. This may seem like an oversimplification but creating welcoming spaces for this community can decrease isolation. By reducing isolation, we can bring LGBTQ generations together to support and understand the struggles they face.
The journal article, “Innovative Approaches Address Aging and Mental Health Needs in LGBTQ Communities” highlights successful attempts to deliver mental health services and achieve mental health equity. Innovative approaches include peer-led outreach, peer-support programs, congregate meals, and in-service training sessions with front-line staff. To read the article in its entirety, click here.
This post is the second in a three-part series about the unique needs of the aging LGBTQ community. The series is written by Lydia, an intern at Normandale Center for Healing & Wholeness and Masters of Social Work intern for St. Marys University of Minnesota.