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Biden Pushes Funding for LGBTQ+ Mental Health Services

mental health
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The Health and Human Services Department recently spent nearly $110 million on suicide prevention.

In October and November, the Health and Human Services Department issued nearly $110 million in federal funding for nonprofit Vibrant Emotional Health. The money is meant for the nonprofit’s 988 hotline that focuses on suicide prevention in marginalized groups, including LGBTQ+ communities.

In 2022, the Trevor Project released a study stating 45 percent of LGBTQ youth seriously considered suicide, while 14 percent attempted it; 43 percent of people surveyed also shared a fear of not being taken seriously.

The 988 hotline, launched in July, recently rolled out LGBTQ+ specialized call services, and more are on the way.

On the other hand, more conservative states like Tennessee, Oklahoma, Arizona, and Iowa have released legislations deemed “anti-transgender,” with “anti-LGBTQ bills” in place in over half of U.S. states.

Between Florida’s “don’t say gay” bill and Texas investigating parents of trans youth for child abuse, chief advocacy officer for the National Alliance on Mental Illness, Hannah Wesolowski, warns, “This is making a young person feel less safe, making them feel like there’s something wrong with them.” This makes the need for 988 “more urgent than ever.”

Access to mental health services for LGBTQ+ members has been limited. Although members of the community are almost twice as likely to experience a mental health issue, only 60 percent of the LGBTQ youth that wanted services in the past year received help. More than 80 percent of youth wished they had more resources.

“The lifeline does say lives,” said Wesolowski, but admits there’s more work to be done.

The 988 line opened a pilot program in the fall with specialized care for members of the LGBTQ+ communities. The chat and text services are available from 3 p.m. to 2 a.m. Eastern time, and the phone is available 24/7.

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Andrew J. Stillman