NYS Survey Making LGBTQ Clients ‘Visible’

OMH Patient Survey Making LGBTQ Clients ‘Visible’

The NYS Office of Mental Health is the first state agency in the nation to compile data in its Patient Characteristics Survey (PCS) specifically addressing sexual orientation and gender identity in mental health care.

“This is significant because this helps to make the LGBTQ community visible in the mental health care system,” said Dr. Barbara E. Warren, a member of the OMH Multicultural Advisory Council and Director of LGBTQ Programs and Policies in the Office for Diversity and Inclusion at the Mount Sinai Health System in New York City.

“In order to create effective treatment programs for LGBTQ clients, providers have to know they are there in first place,” she said “OMH was the first agency to understand this and the first to take the step of gathering the data. Then other agencies started to follow suit.”

“We’re very proud and grateful that OMH was the first mental health agency in the country to gather demographic data about the sexual orientation and gender identity of the people that it serves,” added Dr. Christian Huygen, Executive Director of the Rainbow Heights Club in Brooklyn.

This data will help OMH to document LGBTQ patient outcomes, understand disparities in the delivery of mental health care, and determine the next steps for developing programs to address these disparities.

5.4% or nearly 7,700 patients who were served throughout the system self-identified at lesbian, gay or bisexual. Another 1,021 identified as transgender, a population that had not been represented in mental health statistics, until the 2013 PCS. These numbers were evenly distributed throughout all regions of the state for those identifying as transgender.

Of the 143,231 clients 18 years of age or older receiving mental health services during the two-week survey period in 2015, 4,626 were reported as lesbian or gay; 3,127 were reported as bisexual; 754 were reported as other, and 1,021 individuals reported as transgender. Increases from 2013 to 2015 are most likely due to better reporting.

LGBTQ patients also identified in equal numbers from diverse ethnic backgrounds. Reporting rates of lesbian, gay, bisexual or other; and transgender appear to be higher in the 2015 PCS than in some national studies.

According to a Kaiser Family Foundation study, 2.3% of adults 18 and older identified as lesbian, gay, or bisexual. Gallup data found between 3.4% and 3.6% of adults 18 and older identified as LGBT, compared to 5.9% of mental health clients in New York State reported as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or other (LGBO).

This Gallup data allowed OMH to compare PCS and national rates of LGBTQ across age groups. Younger adults aged 18 to 29 years old were more likely to identify as LGBTQ (6.4%) than older people aged 65 and older (1.9%). This was compared to 11.7% for clients in the PCS aged 18 to 29 and 2.8% for clients aged 65 and older.

According to the Gallup Data, 4.0% identified as Hispanic LGBT and 3.2% identified as non-Hispanic LGBTQ. This was compared to approximately 6.5% of LGBO (and 0.8% transgender) PCS clients reported as Hispanics. The PCS found 6.5% of LGBO (and 0.7% transgender) PCS clients reported as non-Hispanic.

Distribution by region in the Gallup survey displayed positive percentages for LGBTO estimates across regions. 9.5% of clients who identified as multi-racial identified as LGBTQ (and 1.3% as transgender) in the PCS. Excluded were 4,456 clients who identified transgender identity as “unknown,” and 13,033 who identified as “unknown” in sexual orientation.

7.1% of outpatient programs reported clients as LGBTO; the highest of all the other program categories in the PCS.

Results produced by the OMH Office of Performance Measurement and Evaluation. OMH