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Report Spotlights Challenges Facing LGBT Coloradans

A 2018 survey of 1,800 Coloradans found LGBT Coloradans experience increased rates of stress compared with the general population. (Pixabay)
A 2018 survey of 1,800 Coloradans found LGBT Coloradans experience increased rates of stress compared with the general population. (Pixabay)
June 24, 2019

DENVER – Colorado's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender residents face unfair and avoidable challenges when it comes to financial stability, housing, mental health and substance use issues, according to a new issue brief from the Colorado Health Foundation.

Rita Lee, an associate professor at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, says the report's findings spotlight significant disparities in health outcomes.

"They are at increased risk for mental health issues like depression, anxiety, increased risk for suicide,” she states. “They are more likely to report overall poorer health compared to the general population."

Even in Colorado's strong economy, 42% of LGBT residents say they're worse off financially than a year ago, and nearly 6-in-10 worry they'll lose their homes because they can't pay their rent or mortgage, compared with just 25% of their peers.

Nearly half of LGBT Coloradans said they or a family member couldn't access mental health services when they needed it.

Clinical psychologist Sarah Burgamy says when LGBT people are rejected by family or feel unsupported at work, they can develop a negative view of themselves and the future, which can lead to a sense of hopelessness.

She says LGBT people also experience increased rates of stress compared with the general population.

"They experience marginalization and prejudice and bias that non-LGBT people don't experience,” she explains. “So we're already walking around with the stressors that everyone else experiences in day-to-day life, but now we've upped the ante."

Lee says stigma remains a barrier for accessing medical and mental health care. She maintains additional education starting in medical school would help mitigate bias, and get health professionals up to speed on the LGBT population's specific medical needs.

"They need to be trained on how to communicate effectively with LGBT patients in a way that is inclusive and doesn't assume that somebody is straight or heterosexual or assumes that they have a particular gender identity," she states.

Eric Galatas, Public News Service - CO