Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer and/or questioning individuals often face disparities in access to health care, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
LGBTQ youth have increased rates of depression, anxiety and suicidality. But when their need for care is met, resiliency increases, according to recent research.
“The LGBTQ+ community in Oregon has unique health needs both mental and physical, and our medical system, historically, was not built to meet these needs,” Blair Stenvick, communications manager at Basic Rights Oregon, said.
Access to equitable and supportive health care can be hard to find for members of the LGBTQ community. Here are 10 resources that may help.
Youth Era’s Salem Drop center, located on State Street, is a community-based space for ages 14 to 25. Anyone is welcome, but executive director Alberto Maldonado said a lot of the youth served at Salem Drop are members of the LGBTQ community or those experiencing homelessness.
“Everyone is safe here. Empowerment happens here,” Maldonado said.
The Drop holds weekly events such as Work of Art Wednesdays where members can create their own artwork or participate in group projects. A corner wall of the center is decorated with multicolor creations, many with empowering messages such as “it’s all about finding the calm.” On a sheet of black paper, one youth member had painted a single word in large golden letters, “GAY.”
Besides providing social support and community, the Drop employs peer support specialists trained to help youth transition into adulthood, dispenses essential supplies such as hygiene kits, and always has fresh cooked meals and snacks for members.
A crowd favorite snack is “dino nuggies,” Dice, a 17-year-old member of the Drop center, said.
PFLAG is a non-profit organization that coordinates a national network of support for LGBTQ individuals and their families. They provide a variety of services, such as training, toolkits and connections to resources.
Rainbow Youth, located on Capitol Street NE, is a non-profit support center that facilitates a safe environment for youth to be able to connect with each other, find resources, and gain education.
Jason Staats, Rainbow Youth founder and current board president, emphasized the importance of LGBTQ youth having a safe community to connect with their peers.
“There is also no doubt in my mind that over the decades, Rainbow Youth has saved lives and enabled our youth to have high self-respect and love for themselves,” Staats said.
Middle- and high-school-aged youth can attend the Salem Youth Group meetings on the second and fourth Thursdays of each month from 6-8 p.m.
Spectrum Counseling, located in Portland, provides counseling services focused on LGBTQ clients. They offer teletherapy to clients located outside of Portland for those who cannot make the drive.
They accept most in-network insurance and are often able to take Oregon Health Plan (OHP) with pre-approval. See the “insurance and fees” tab for more information.
Cascade AIDS Project
The Cascade AIDS Project, which has a location in Portland, provides a variety of health and wellness services for LGBTQ people and individuals affected by HIV.
Services include HIV/STI testing, medical case management, support services and mental health, social support groups, housing services, health insurance navigation, and a PrEP provider list, including telehealth options.
Northwest Human Services
Northwest Human Services, which has offices at West Salem Clinic, is focused on “creating a healthy community with respect, compassion, and acceptance for all.”
It provides a range of medical services, including reproductive health, birth control, STI screenings, psychiatric medication management, counseling, hormone replacement therapy and transgender health care. Interpreters are available for all services. They accept OHP as well as many other major medical insurances.
The OutCare Health website can be used to find an LGBTQ-friendly provider as well as other healthcare resources. Type in your location and what type of provider you are seeking to see a list of nearby services.
NAYA Family Center of Portland
NAYA Family Center is a multi-service agency that provides a range of services for indigenous youth, adults and families, including Two-Spirit and LGBTQ support groups and events.
Some services include their two-spirit safe space alliance, mental health groups, referrals and resources, family wellness programming, health policy advocacy and fitness classes.
Basic Rights Oregon
Basic Rights Oregon advocates for health care access for underserved communities. It addresses gaps in care through policy and legislative advocacy and works with partner organizations throughout Oregon.
A lot of their work is centered around “being proactive about preventing inequities,” communications manager Blair Stenvick said.
If you are experiencing or have experienced inequitable care, reach out to Basic Rights Oregon for resource referral and consultations. If you are unsure about your experience, see their “Know Your Rights” page.
National Suicide Prevention Hotline / Oregon Crisis Text Line
The National Suicide Prevention Hotline is for anyone experiencing emotional distress or in a suicidal crisis. All support provided via the hotline is free and confidential.
The current hotline is (800) 273-8255, but beginning July 16, the three-digit code, 988, will become available to everyone nationwide. The hotline is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
The crisis text line for Oregonians who need immediate behavioral health support also is free and available 24/7. Text OREGON to 741741 to talk with a live, trained crisis counselor.
If you are struggling to decide on a medical provider, the Lewis & Clark Grad School TransActive Gender Project has this list of questions and considerations when choosing a provider.
For more resources, see the Oregon LGBT Resources website.
Sydney Wyatt covers healthcare inequities in the Mid-Willamette Valley for the Statesman Journal. You can contact her at SWyatt@gannett.com, by phone (503) 399-6613, or on Twitter @sydney_elise44 The Statesman Journal’s coverage of healthcare inequities is funded in part by the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust, which seeks to strengthen the cultural, social, educational, and spiritual base of the Pacific Northwest through capacity-building investments in the nonprofit sector.
This article originally appeared on Salem Statesman Journal: Oregon LGBTQ physical and mental health resources