University of Maryland Prevention Research Center – Promoting LGBTQ Mental Health and Wellness


I ended up not telling therapists for a long time out of fear of rejection. Will I die because these people aren’t caring for me the way they are supposed to? It was like seeing a clock go down it was just like, I’m running out of time. A lot of the questions that they were asking me were [pause] stigmatizing. When I was a youth and I did reach that crisis stage it was a mental health care provider who pretty much saved me. I’m Brad Boekeloo, Director of the University of Maryland Prevention Research Center. I’m he/his or him and I am a gay man. I know what it’s like to be a youth who is feeling alone, confused, unsure about their sexuality and have really no one to go to to get help or information. My name is Jessica Fish. I use she/her pronouns. I am a cis, queer woman. LGBTQ people face significant barriers to health equity. There is plenty of research that shows that competent, affirming health care is a pathway for wellness for LGBTQ people but those things are really hard to find. The first therapist I talked to he said the solution when I came and said like “I think I am transgender,” I think this, this and this, his solution for me was to go out and get more friends, which was, like, completely useless advice. She used my legal name, as opposed to my preferred name during an appointment a couple times, and that was like, super demeaning. People who are transgender or non-binary, people who identify as LGB, It’s not part of our genetic makeup that we are predisposed to higher rates of depression or anxiety or mood disorders or
challenges or substance use disorders it’s because of other people’s response
to us that this comes up and so that that doesn’t need to be. Many of the health inequities that we see within the LGBTQ community they range from depression, suicidality, substance use, access to health care, violence, and so the Prevention Research Center’s mission is to provide training and education for mental health and health care providers so that they can
provide competent and affirming care. I’m just really excited about the center. I I
heard it was the first in the nation This is a resource that I and my queer peers could have used when we were in this huge depression group therapy but
had no LGBTQ specific resources to help us. I would say I am doing a lot better
now I stopped self-harming, like the moment I
saw, you know, some form of trans care. I have started seeing another
psychiatrist and she has already exhibited an understanding of queer and
trans identities. The thing that made me the most comfortable with my care provider was when I spoke to her she listened and she saw me. That’s the spirit of our University of Maryland Prevention Research Center, to engage, to see, to address and to try to serve and lift up others through research, through services, through training. We have the resources across campus to support us in the School of Public Health in this mission. We have our scientists and faculty, but we also have students, community partners, we have people from the communities we want to serve. They’re all part of our team, and we’re all working together to serve the most vulnerable LGBTQ people.

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