• Bassett’s Gender Wellness Center Receives State Grant to Sustain On-Site Mental Health Services

    Bassett Healthcare Network

    March 27, 2019

    The Gender Wellness Center (GWC) has been awarded a New York State Department of Health grant designed to improve health outcomes and quality of life for transgender individuals and families by increasing access to mental health services. The award amount is $133,000 per year for five years.

    “This grant will allow us to sustain our integrated, on-site mental health services program for transgender patients,” says Justine Woolner Wise, LMSW, Gender Wellness Center. “It will also enable us to add mental health practitioners at the Center and to make sure they receive ongoing training and professional development to treat the mental health needs of the transgender community.” 

    According to the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey (USTS), findings paint a troubling picture of the impact of stigma and discrimination on the health of many transgender people. A staggering 39 percent of respondents experienced serious psychological distress in the month prior to completing the survey, compared with only 5 percent of the U.S. population. Among the starkest findings is that 40 percent of respondents have attempted suicide in their lifetime—nearly nine times the attempted suicide rate in the U.S. population (4.6 percent). Respondents also encountered high levels of mistreatment when seeking health care. In the year prior to completing the survey, one-third (33 percent) of those who saw a health care provider had at least one negative experience related to being transgender, such as being verbally harassed or refused treatment because of their gender identity. Additionally, nearly one-quarter (23 percent) of respondents reported that they did not seek the health care they needed in the year prior to completing the survey due to fear of being mistreated as a transgender person, and 33 percent did not go to a health care provider when needed because they could not afford it.

    “Individuals in the transgender community may experience mental health concerns just like anyone else; however, they often experience more negative mental health outcomes because of prejudice and other biases,” says Patti Noon, LMSW, Gender Wellness Center. “This funding will help us continue to provide the highest quality of care to meet our patients’ needs.”  

    Susan C. Turell, PhD, Gender Wellness Center, states. “A growing number of counselors have positive attitudes toward the transgender community. In addition, it’s important that they have up-to-date knowledge and an understanding of the specific health care needs of transgender individuals. Our mental health team is expanding training providers in the region to offer gender-affirming care."

    The Gender Wellness Center, located at Bassett Healthcare Network’s Susquehanna Family Practice at 1 FoxCare Drive, Oneonta, is the primary location for comprehensive health services for transgender individuals in upstate and central New York. The GWC is a nationally-recognized, rural-based interdisciplinary center that offers medical, mental health, and surgical care to transgender individuals of all religions, ages, sexual orientations, and ethnicities; they also offer advocacy, research and training. The geographic area served includes, but is not limited to, Central New York/Southern Tier, including the counties of Onondaga, Madison, Cayuga, Oswego, Oneida, Herkimer, Otsego, Delaware, Cortland, Chenango, Tompkins, Chemung, Tioga and Broome.