A safe space for members of the area’s LGBTQ community to seek advice and support exists beyond San Diego proper.
In a country where 62% of LGBTQ youth reported showing symptoms of major depressive disorder last winter, according to a national crisis intervention organization, the North County LGBTQ Resource Center offers mental health and development programs. other resources to his community.
“We have a team of mental health care providers who specialize in gender care and LGBT issues,” said Max Disposti, the centre’s founder. “This is a big deal because in North County for many years we didn’t have specialist gender care unless you paid a lot of money for it.”
Tackling inequalities in mental health care is of critical importance to Disposti as, in its view, LGBTQ people, especially young people, are particularly vulnerable to lack of access to support and counseling.
In the United States, about 48% of LGBTQ youth said they needed mental health counseling in the past year, but they were unable to access it. The statistic is the result of a poll released last winter by The Trevor Project, the aforementioned national organization that provides LGBTQ youth with crisis intervention.
“People come here because they want to talk to gays,” Disposti said of the staff at the center. “If we don’t get them there is no other space for them, so it’s a huge responsibility.
The center offers mental health services at a sliding scale of $ 25 to $ 65 per session, but remains accessible to everyone, regardless of income.
“Ninety percent of clients say they can’t afford it, and we say no problem,” said Jeri Nicolas, the centre’s reception coordinator.
Celebrating its 10th anniversary in November, the center has grown significantly over the past decade, expanding to provide the North County LGBTQ community with programs that address issues ranging from food disparity to prevention and abuse. HIV care.
Unicorn Homes, one of the centre’s programs, provides homeless or at-risk LGBTQ youth with an LGBTQ supportive family, where they can access resources and services. The program aims to provide stable housing for young people, solve family problems and reunite families where possible.
Geographically, the physical reach has been a challenge for the center. As a single LGBTQ resource center for nine cities in North County, having only one location makes it difficult to adequately serve every member of the region’s LGBTQ community.
“We would like to make sure that no one is left behind in receiving our comprehensive services,” Disposti said. “But right now we’re doing what we can with lots of volunteers and limited support.”
Staff’s goal is to move the center over the next two years to a larger location in Oceanside, where they can expand their current programs.
“We will do everything in our power to help these people who are crying out for any kind of help,” Nicolas said. “I would say (mental health services) are the heart of the center right now. “
Madeline Mack is a member of UT’s Community Journalism Scholarship Program for High School Students.