Increasing Accessible and Competent Healthcare for LGBTQ+

MHANKYSWOH is addressing barriers to accessibility, quality, competency and barriers to mental health care for adults and youth who identify as LGBTQIA+ in the Greater Cincinnati region. Addressing these issues requires a multi- faceted approach, including a behavioral health provider training program, Pro-Bono Counseling program, and Teen Mental Health First Aid.

Behavioral Health Provider Training

In 2023, Mental Health America (MHA) released “The State of Mental Health in America” which provided data surrounding the need for behavioral health services in the United States and the availability of those services to the Americans who need them. MHA identified that in 21% of adults in America are experiencing a mental illness and that there are an estimated 350 individuals for every one behavioral health provider. While individuals in the LGBTQIA+ community seek therapy at higher rates that the general population, often expecting more barriers to receiving mental health care, the rate of satisfaction reported was less than 40% (The LGBTQ Reducing Mental Health Disparities Report, 2012). These findings highlight the need for investment in the behavioral health workforce in order to meet these unmet needs and the need for that investment to include culturally competent behavioral health providers who can provide quality services to the LGBTQIA+ community. 

To invest in the behavioral health workforce and increase cultural competency of local behavioral health providers, MHANKYSWOH will provide education with the training An Introduction to Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity for Behavioral Healthcare. The description of this course includes the following:

An Introduction to Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation in Behavioral Healthcare provides an introduction to sexual orientation and gender identity, and increases the participant’s knowledge of the challenges for sexual minorities. Participants gain skills for recognizing and working with this population and providing culturally responsive services to LGBTQ+ individuals in mental health and substance use disorder treatment settings. Content focus areas include: definitions of gender identity, sexual orientation, physical health, mental health, substance use treatment, and other health-related concerns for LGBTQ+ populations. The curriculum also provides treatment strategies and considerations for clinical work that have been proven effective within this population.

This course has been approved for 6 Continuing Education Units (CEU’s) by the State Of Ohio Counseling, Social Worker, Marriage and Family Board and the Kentucky Social Work Board. MHANKYSWOH has been providing this course since 2020, with an ongoing overall average evaluation score of 4.86 or higher per course.

In addition to education, providers who complete the course are then provided additional support and learning opportunities with up to 50 hours of group consultation with a licensed professional who specializes in mental health and substance use care for LGBTQIA+ individuals. This group consultation will provide support to providers, allow you to discuss any barriers or issues, revisit treatment strategies, and provide an opportunity to reflect on your work with clients who identify as LGBTQIA+.

Registration is free through a grant from Interact for Health, with an intended audience of professionals who work or reside in the following counties:

  • Ohio: Adams, Brown, Butler, Clermont, Clinton, Hamilton, Highland, Warren
  • Kentucky: Boone, Bracken, Campbell, Gallatin, Grant, Kenton, Pendleton

2 Learning Cohorts: February 9, 2024  |  June 7, 2024

Pro-Bono Counseling (PBC)


MHANKYSWOH’s Pro-Bono Counseling (PBC) program links mental health providers to adults in the Greater Cincinnati area for short-term counseling services. PBC is a free service available to adults who are unemployed, uninsured, under insured, or unable to afford traditional counseling services. In addition to eliminating the barrier of cost, the program attempts to eliminate the barrier of travel; Pro-Bono Counseling services are available in-person and via telehealth in order to serve individuals in the environment most beneficial to them.

We're also focusing on increasing awareness and accessibility of the Pro-Bono Counseling program to adults in the region who identify as LGBTQIA+.  MHANKYSWOH is focusing on community outreach and marketing to LGBTQIA+ adults in order to obtain recruitment and referrals to the program. This includes connections to schools and universities, social service organizations, victims’ services, churches, hospitals, behavioral health professional associations, other non-profit organizations and outreach at events where these connections can be made. As a result of the outreach efforts, MHANKYSWOH is increasing the provision of Pro-Bono Counseling services to LGBTQIA+ adults in the targeted geographical area at no cost to the individual.

Providers identified for this project who in the Pro-Bono Counseling program are Master’s level licensed clinicians as well as social work students and will have identified area of focus in the LGBTQIA+ community, will have completed the course An Introduction to Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity for Behavioral Healthcare and will have support and guidance from a licensed independent social worker as part of the outlined behavioral health provider training above.

Pro-Bono Counseling Information & Application

Teen Mental Health First Aid (MHFA)

When LGBTQIA+ youth do not have access to supportive and affirming adults, they often turn to their peers for support and guidance when experiencing mental health concerns. According to the TREVOR Project’s “National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health 2020”, 68% of LGBTQ youth reported symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder and 46% of LGBTQ youth reported engaging in self- harming behaviors. Mental Health America released the report “Youth and Young Adult Peer Support: Expanding Community Driven Mental Health Resources” in 2022, which emphasized the need for support for youth from peers with lived experience, and recommended training for youth in order to provide this support.

Teen Mental Health First Aid teaches teens how to identify, understand and respond to signs of mental health and substance use challenges among their peers. In order to reduce stigma, increase awareness of mental health concerns and increase help-seeking behavior among teenagers, MHANKYSWOH is providing Teen Mental Health First Aid to LGBTQIA+ teens ages 15-18. MHANKYSWOH is also identifying local teen-focused LGBTQIA+ groups (Gay/ Straight Alliances, support groups, community organizations) to partner with in order to provide this training. 

Inquiries: [email protected]