NYC Health + Hospitals Partners With The Institute For Human Identity For LGBTQ+ Therapy Training

January 3, 2024

NYC Health + Hospitals’ Office of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion has entered into a strategic partnership with the Institute for Human Identity (IHI) to launch the groundbreaking “LGBTQ+ Mental Health Training Project.”

This collaborative initiative represents a significant step forward in advancing the clinical expertise of mental health professionals within the health system. The three-month training program is specifically designed to empower these professionals with enhanced knowledge and skills to deliver affirming therapy to LGBTQ+ patients.

The Institute for Human Identity (IHI) holds the distinction of being the nation’s pioneering and longest-running provider of LGBTQ+-affirming psychotherapy. This partnership amplifies NYC Health + Hospitals’ robust suite of services committed to LGBTQ+-affirming healthcare. The comprehensive program acknowledges and directly addresses the distinctive mental health challenges and health disparities faced by individuals within the LGBTQ+ community. This encompasses diverse identities, such as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, gender non-binary, gender diverse, asexual, intersex, queer, and others associated with LGBTQ+ communities.

Of paramount importance, the program is meticulously structured to mitigate the profound impacts of social stigma and minority stress—forms of psycho-emotional stress that disproportionately affect many LGBTQ+ individuals. Moreover, the initiative takes into account the intersectional experiences of discrimination and violence that LGBTQ+ patients with multiple marginalized identities often endure. These identities may be related to race, ethnicity, documented status, socio-economic status, ability, and other factors.

This collaboration builds upon the foundation of existing training initiatives and underscores the health system’s enduring commitment to the LGBTQ+ community. NYC Health + Hospitals boasts seven Pride Health Centers, which are dedicated spaces providing individual care with utmost respect and dignity to people of diverse sexual orientations and gender identities.


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Ivelesse Mendez-Justiniano, Vice President of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at NYC Health + Hospitals, emphasized the significance of this training in the context of the health system’s broader commitment to gender and health equity. She stated, “As we continue to focus on gender and health equity across our system, this training will serve as a valuable tool; ensuring we continue to provide the highest level of affirming care to our LGBTQ+ patients receiving behavioral health services.”

Dr. Omar Fattal, Co-Deputy Chief Medical Officer and System Chief of Behavioral Health at NYC Health + Hospitals, echoed the sentiment, emphasizing the system’s dedication to providing care that treats LGBTQ+ patients with respect and dignity. He stated, “NYC Health + Hospitals continues to lead the way in ensuring our staff have the education and skills needed to serve LGBTQ+ patients. This training will ensure our mental health clinical staff have the knowledge to provide the affirming care that our patients need and deserve.”

Tara Lombardo, LMHC, Executive Director of IHI, highlighted IHI’s rich legacy of over fifty years as a leading provider of LGBTQ+-affirming professional mental health services. She expressed enthusiasm about the collaboration, stating, “Collaborating with NYC Health + Hospitals provides us not only with the opportunity to share our clinical knowledge and perspectives with a wider group of professional therapists but, most importantly, it allows us to support LGBTQ+ mental health and wellness across New York City more broadly.”

The training, delivered in small groups, is designed to be an immersive experience challenges participants to critically examine and reflect upon their own unconscious biases, assumptions, and negative attitudes regarding sexual and gender diversity. The project aims to equip providers with enhanced skills and competencies to deliver high-quality, culturally responsive behavioral health care to LGBTQ+ patients. Successful completion of the training will empower learners with culturally responsive knowledge, integration of LGBTQ+-affirming psychotherapeutic principles, and proficiency in delivering LGBTQ+-affirming therapy.

An outstanding testament to NYC Health + Hospitals’ commitment to LGBTQ+ healthcare equality is the recognition of all 18 eligible facilities with the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s “Leader in LGBTQ Healthcare Equality” designation in 2022. This prestigious recognition has been consistently awarded every year since 2015. To earn this designation, facilities must demonstrate ongoing commitment through staff training in LGBTQ+ healthcare, implementation of LGBTQ+-responsive policies, and making those policies available to both the public and staff.

In a noteworthy achievement in 2023, all five of NYC Health + Hospitals’ Long-Term care facilities received recognition as LGBTQ+ Long-Term Care Equality Leaders from both the Human Rights Campaign and SAGE. This recognition serves as a testament to the health system’s unwavering commitment to providing equitable and affirming care to LGBTQ+ adults in their long-term care facilities.

The health system operates seven Pride Health Centers, strategically located across different boroughs:

  • NYC Health + Hospitals/Bellevue
  • NYC Health + Hospitals/Jacobi
  • NYC Health + Hospitals/Gotham Health, Gouverneur
  • NYC Health + Hospitals/Gotham Health, Judson
  • NYC Health + Hospitals/Lincoln
  • NYC Health + Hospitals/Metropolitan
  • NYC Health + Hospitals/Woodhull

For youth and adolescents, LGBTQ+ services tailored specifically can be accessed at NYC Health + Hospitals/Gotham Health, Judson Health Center located at 34 Spring St. in Manhattan.

In a pioneering move in 2011, NYC Health + Hospitals became the first public healthcare system in the United States to mandate a Cultural Competence Training program for staff. This program was meticulously designed to instill in staff the ability to provide respectful, patient-centered, and culturally competent healthcare services to LGBTQ+ New Yorkers served by public hospitals, community health centers, and nursing homes each year. NYC Health + Hospitals remains steadfast in its commitment to ongoing staff training, including monthly systemwide Achieving Health Equity for LGBTQ+ People training sessions.

NYC Health + Hospitals stands as the largest municipal healthcare system in the nation, annually serving over a million New Yorkers through more than 70 patient care locations across the city’s five boroughs. The extensive network comprises outpatient, neighborhood-based primary and specialty care centers, anchored by care coordination with trauma centers, nursing homes, post-acute care centers, home care agency, and the MetroPlus health plan. The system’s diverse workforce, exceeding 43,000 employees, is dedicated to empowering all New Yorkers, without exception, to live the healthiest life possible. For further details, please visit www.nychealthandhospitals.org, and stay connected on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

The Institute for Human Identity: The Institute for Human Identity (IHI) proudly holds the distinction of being the nation’s first and longest-running provider of LGBTQ+-affirming psychotherapy. Headquartered in New York City, IHI extends affirming professional mental health services to individuals of all sexual orientations and gender identities. With a legacy spanning over 50 years, IHI has actively championed and supported the mental health of people within LGBTQ+ communities while respecting and fostering their unique identities.

In the early 1970s, IHI’s founders played a pivotal role in the successful movement to remove homosexuality as a mental disorder from the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Beyond providing professional mental health services, IHI is actively involved in clinical training for the next generation of LGBTQ+-affirming mental health clinicians and offers culturally responsive continuing education and consultation to professionals and organizations.

For more information about IHI or its services, please visit www.ihitherapy.org.

Direct inquiries can be made to outreach@ihitherapy.org

Photo credit: Harlem Hospital.

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