Local survey shows LGBT community faces challenges getting mental health care, substance abuse and STDs

Written by on December 11, 2020

Local survey shows LGBT community faces challenges getting mental health care, substance abuse and STDs

By Gabi Falk, WLVR Lehigh University Intern

December 11, 2020

Carolyn Kaster/AP

People in the LGBT community in the Lehigh Valley face barriers in terms of accessing healthcare and that’s led to health disparities. That’s according to a survey released this week by the Bradbury Sullivan LGBT Community Center in Allentown released data this week.

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For several years, the Bradbury Sullivan Center has worked with the department of health to compile the largest state level data set around LGBT health. 

Adrian Shanker is the executive director of the Center. He says the findings of the survey have shown that the LGBT community faces challenges surrounding mental health, drug and alcohol use and sexually transmitted diseases.  

“We are not receiving high quality health care in Pennsylvania and as a result we are left off with worse health outcomes and these outcomes can shorten our lives ,” said Shanker.

Shanker says barriers to care lead to a lack of screenings for the LGBT community and a higher rate of HIV and cancer. 

“We have to facilitate stronger referral relationships to LGBT competent healthcare providers.”

Shanker wants to see a stronger focus on improving mental health services for the LGBT community. 

About 6,500 LGBT individuals in Pennsylvania, many from Lehigh and Northampton counties, were part of the 10 week survey last spring.

This story is part of a collaboration between WLVR News and Lehigh University’s Department of Journalism & CommunicationView all student stories.

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