The University of Maryland Prevention Research Center (UMD-PRC) aims to better understand and improve mental health care for sexual and gender minority (LGBT) persons. LGBT persons suffer higher rates of mental health concerns and related co-occurring health problems such as substance use, sexual risk-taking, eating disorders, obesity, bully victimization, and cancers. Sometimes poor coping and/or the synergistic effects of multiple co-occurring conditions exacerbate mental health concerns and further increase LGBT persons? need for mental health care, which needs to be addressed so that they can effectively utilize other forms of health care and needed social services. Unfortunately, there are many gaps in the understanding of mental health care for LGBT persons. The literature is scant in regard to LGBT persons experience in mental health care and their perceived needs, scientifically validated tools and methods to assess mental health care for LGBT persons, and evaluated cultural competency training and technical assistance for mental health care providers of LGBT clients. Meanwhile, the scientific literature is advancing about mental health and related health disparities in LGBT populations and the importance of addressing mental health in this population at systems, organizational, social, and individual levels. Additionally, societal attitudes and government policies regarding LGBT persons are rapidly evolving, creating new culturally sensitive health care vocabulary, health care delivery requirements, and more LGBT-identifying persons in younger cohorts. Given the research gaps about mental health care practice, the increased understanding of the need for quality mental health care, and the rapidly evolving cultural landscape for LGBT persons, the need for research on mental health care provider continuing education regarding the needs of LGBT persons is clear. The UMD-PRC will establish and maintain a multi-disciplinary faculty of researchers; a diverse and well- connected community advisory board of stakeholders; identify promising mental health care cultural competency practice tools and strategies; and evaluate, translate, disseminate and communicate research findings and beneficial tools and strategies to all stakeholders to improve mental health care for LGBT persons. Ultimately, the UMD-PRC strives to be a national resource for tools and strategies aimed at improving the effectiveness of mental health care for LGBT persons.
An increase in effective mental health care for LGBT persons is needed. This project identifies and evaluates a promising strategy including tools for increasing mental health provider cultural competency with LGBT clients. With a Community Advisory Board, it engages in wide spread activities to support mental health care provider improvements in LGBT cultural competency.