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Allyship 101: Advocating for the Health of Your LGBTQ+ Loved Ones

Allyship 101: Advocating for the Health of Your LGBTQ+ Loved Ones

Jun 6, 2022
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LGBTQ+ people are part of every community, and their specific health care needs warrant thoughtful consideration. Everyone deserves access to comprehensive and competent care, regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation. Although substantial health disparities impact the LGBTQ+ community, there are many ways you can advocate for your loved ones. 

LGBTQ+ health concerns

“LGBTQ+ individuals are at increased risk for several health concerns,” said Tammy Turner, D.O., Inspira Medical Group Primary Care Mantua. “To help your LGBTQ+ friends and family, you must understand the issues they face.” Grasping these matters is the first step to helping your loved ones get the care and support they deserve. 

LGBTQ+ health concerns include: 

  • Experiences with violence: Negative attitudes about marginalized individuals put them at increased risk for experiencing violence or the threat of violence. These experiences include teasing, bullying, harassment, physical assault and injury with a weapon. 
  • Mental health concerns: Many LGBTQ+ individuals experience trauma from ongoing stigma and discrimination, exposure to violence, lack of family approval or social rejection. “Traumatic events can lead to mental health issues such as depression or anxiety,” said Dr. Turner. “They can also make someone more prone to suicidal thoughts or actions.” 
  • Substance use and abuse: LGBTQ+ individuals are at increased risk for substance abuse, including alcohol, tobacco and illegal drugs. 
  • Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs): Members of the LGBTQ+ community are disproportionately affected by STDs such as syphilis, chlamydia, gonorrhea, human papillomavirus (HPV) and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). 
  • Equitable quality of care: People within the LGBTQ+ community often struggle to find a culturally sensitive provider experienced in addressing their unique health care needs. 

How you can be a good ally

Fortunately, there are ways to help your LGBTQ+ family and friends navigate these health concerns. One of the best forms of support is listening, talking and connecting. Inviting open discussion can help your loved one feel understood and supported.

You can also help by educating yourself. There are many organizations and online resources where you can learn more about how to support your loved one. Some great places to start are the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and PFLAG. Educating yourself about LGBTQ+ health issues empowers you to advocate for your loved ones, ensuring they get the treatment they need.

Everyone deserves access to high-quality health care that is culturally sensitive. “At Inspira, we understand that members of the LGBTQ+ community require comprehensive treatment to address an interrelated set of health challenges,” said Dr. Turner. “Our multidisciplinary teams deliver compassionate and supportive care that respects each patient’s dignity and personal needs.”   

Inspira Health is a high reliability organization (HRO), which means safety is the top priority for patients and staff. To make an appointment, call 1-800-INSPIRA.

Topics: Addiction Services, Behavioral Health, Primary Care