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A WGVU initiative in partnership with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation using on-air programs and community events to explore issues of inclusion and equity.

The Grand Rapids Pride Center offers 'Therapy Assistance Program'

Grand Rapids Pride Center offers therapy assistance program
Grand Rapids Pride Center
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The Grand Rapids Pride Center is offering therapy assistance to the LGBTQIA+ community. Individuals can receive up to five free telehealth sessions or get help funding their co-pays.

Leslie Boker, the center's Proud To Be Healthy Coordinator, said the move comes after they saw a disparity in therapy access during the pandemic.

"Folks avoid accessing treatment until things are bad because of the reality of being rejected and the fear of being rejected from your health care provider," Boker said, "...About one and a half to two percent of trans folks have been physically harmed in health care settings in the past year."

The program is in partnership with River City Psychological Services, with inital funding by the Heart of West Michigan United Way's Coronavirus Response Fund.  Individuals will be matched with a therapist chosen by program participates and vetted by the Grand Rapids Pride Center. 

The assistance program has two branches: Therapy Access Program and Co-Pay Assistance Program. The Therapy Access program is designed to connect LGBTQIA+ individuals with safe therapists and offers up to five free telehealth sessions.

The Co-Pay Assistance Program is designed to ensure LGBTQIA+ individuals access to mental health care, breaking down financial barriers that can occur even with insurance. Boker said the Co-Pay Assistance Program covers co-pay costs up to $40 per session for up to 12 sessions. Individuals can go to their therapist of choice or the center can connect them with one.

Boker said this is a way to breakdown longtime barriers that have stood in the way of LGBTQIA+ healthcare. However, they added while practices are trending upward, there is still a long road ahead towards equality.

"There's being no data collection around LGBTQ identities, so if you don’t have any data on who is going to the doctor and what sort of folks are having what sorts of health issues, you don’t have public health research of those communities. They kind of get overlooked," they said, "Overall these types of things are getting better. The numbers of who has to teach their doctors how to care for them and their identity-specific health needs have evened out a lot. It went from 50% in 2011 to more like 24% in 2015."

More information on the Grand Rapids Pride Center Therapy Assistance Program can be found here.

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