When health-care professionals say they can't help you, you might assume it's because of what you have, not because of who you are.
But, if you're a member of the LGBT community, you can't be sure.
"There is a perception that some physicians are homophobic and that makes the patient reluctant to come out," said Dr. Scott Rodgers, chair of the Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior.
"Staying hidden is an unhealthy way of living your life."
For that reason, Rodgers' department in July launched the LGBT Clinic at the Jackson Medical Mall Thad Cochran Center - a pioneering treatment center that will help fill a gap in mental health services for Mississippi's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.
Apparently the first of its kind in the state, it's a project of UMMC's new Division of Gender, Sexuality and Health, directed by Dr. Kim Gratz, a School of Medicine professor and researcher who is overseeing a new LGBT Health Program, as well as a Women's Health Program.
The LGBT Clinic is offering psychiatric care as well as psychotherapy to a population making up 2-5 percent of the state's inhabitants, by Rodgers' estimate.
"We want them to know they can come to a place that is accepting and where they can get competent care," Gratz said.
To that end, she and Rodgers will work with another pacesetter in this field: Dr. Leandro Mena, associate professor of medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases.
"We're building on the work he's done," Gratz said.
That includes his work as medical director of the Open Arms Healthcare Center, which specializes in primary care focused on the health needs of LGBT populations; established by the nonprofit community organization, My Brother's Keeper Inc., it also offers the services of a clinical psychologist and referrals.
LGBT issues have not been ignored at the Medical Center, Gratz said, but the stress was on physical, rather than psychological needs. Continue Reading...