JACKSON, Miss.–How would you feel if your doctor was making moral judgements about who you are while you were getting treatment. Some LGBT people in Mississippi claim that’s happened to them and that’s part of the reason UMMC has opened the first mental health clinic in Mississippi to primarily serve the gay, bisexual and transgender community.
“There is a perception that some physicians are homophobic and that makes the patient reluctant to come out,” said Dr. Scott Rodgers, chair of the University of Mississippi Medical Center Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior.
“Staying hidden is an unhealthy way of living your life.”
The clinic is at the Jackson Medical Mall Thad Cochran Center.
Apparently the first of its kind in the state, it’s a project of UMMC’s new Division of Gender, Sexuality and Health, directed by Dr. Kim Gratz, a School of Medicine professor and researcher who is overseeing a new LGBT Health Program, as well as a Women’s Health Program.
The LGBT Clinic is offering psychiatric care as well as psychotherapy to a population making up 2-5 percent of the state’s inhabitants, by Rodgers’ estimate.
SCOTT ROGERS INTERVIEW
In an interview with News Mississippi, Rogers said that some doctors are “not really what I would call culturally competent”, and believe that being gay is a choice. He said to call it a lifestyle implies that it is a choice, which he believes is wrong.
“Perhaps they didn’t have that kind of training in medical school or in residency and so they’re doing what they think is right, but it may be hurtful and it may be closing doors to the kinds of conversations that need to be had,” said Rogers.
He said one of the clinic’s goals, besides treating people, is to help educate doctors.
“I think the mistakes people make as physicians are not always intentional or malevolent. I don’t think most physicians I know would ever be hurtful to a patient. The problem is that they don’t know about the unique needs of the population.”
Rogers said the clinic at the Jackson Medical Mall is the only one that is open right now, but that his group is open to the idea of expansion into other parts of the state.
“There has been a lot of interest among providers around Jackson. Given that we’re just getting started, we’re gonna focus on Jackson for now.”
He said the clinic is paid for by billing, just as any other mental health clinic.
“It’s not a free clinic. We’re billing for service,” he said.
Stay up to date with all of Mississippi’s latest news by signing up for our free newsletter here.
Copyright 2023 SuperTalk Mississippi Media. All rights reserved.