Gender minority and health sector: promoting mental health with better medical education

Carlos Moedas, Vytenis Andriukaitis, Corina Creţu (from left to right)
Date: 24/10/2017. Location: Strasbourg – EP. © European Union , 2017. Source: EC – Audiovisual Service. Photo: Etienne Ansotte

This article was exclusively written for the Sting by Mr Kai-Yuan Cheng, a PhD student at University College London. Mr Cheng is affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA). The opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writer and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.

Gender minority is a diverse community that encompasses a wide spectrum of identities, orientations, and expressions that do not conform to the conventional sexual and gender roles. Members of gender minority groups are often at risk for poorer mental health, which includes depression, anxiety, suicidality, and substance abuse. This inequity of health is far from inherent and is rooted in complex social contexts. According to the minority stress theory, the experiences of exposing to prejudice, discrimination, and bullying are psychological stressors that eventually lead to mental health problems among members of gender minority groups.1

Health professionals and health professionals in training are not exempted from these minority stressors. Ironically, studying and practicing in environments that are supposed to have stronger awareness of health does not protect them from the negative treatment to gender minorities.

One nation-wide study in the United States investigated family practice programme directors’ attitude toward gender minority applicants.2 Although the majority of responding directors showed accepting attitude toward homosexuality, it was also reported that one in four directors admitted that they “might” or “most certainly” rank an applicant known to be gay lower than a heterosexual one. On the other hand, gay and lesbian medical students also fear that “coming-out” may potentially impede their chances of matching residency programme. These results suggest that the clinical working environment remains, until today, unfriendly and intolerant to people with non-mainstream sexual orientations. The discrimination is not only felt by the recipients of health care services, but also their providers.

Health professionals not only have to interact with the health regime, but essentially be part of it. If that regime is explicitly or implicitly hostile toward gender minorities, members of gender minorities would find it difficult to establish a coherent identity as their internal drives conflict with external discipline.

Medical profession is a cycle. Medical students are mentored by senior physicians and mature to become future senior physicians who take on the mentorship. To create an environment that promote mental health for all health professionals regardless of their self-placement on the gender spectrum, we must put effort into raising health professionals’ gender awareness. Studies have shown that clinical exposure to LGBT patients is associated with a more positive attitude toward LGBT community.3 Unfortunately, studies on the status quo of medical education suggested that much more await to be done. One study that surveyed deans of medical education of Canadian and American medical schools found that one third of these medical schools have dedicated zero hour of their teaching time on LGBT-related content during the clinical years.4 It is therefore hardly surprising that people who identify themselves as gender minorities find it depressing working in the health sector.

Health professionals and gender minorities are two groups of people who are known to be at risk of poorer mental health. Measures have to be taken as early as possible, in medical school and other institutions for health professional training, to create a health sector that is both gender friendly and mental health promoting.

References:

  1. Meyer IH. Prejudice, social stress, and mental health in lesbian, gay, and bisexual populations: conceptual issues and research evidence. Psychological bulletin. 2003;129(5):674.
  2. Oriel KA, Madlon-Kay DJ, Govaker D, Mersy DJ. Gay and lesbian physicians in training: family practice program directors’ attitudes and students’ perceptions of bias. Family medicine. 1996;28(10):720-5.
  3. Sanchez NF, Rabatin J, Sanchez JP, Hubbard S, Kalet A. Medical students’ ability to care for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered patients. FAMILY MEDICINE-KANSAS CITY-. 2006;38(1):21.
  4. Obedin-Maliver J, Goldsmith ES, Stewart L, et al. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender–related content in undergraduate medical education. JAMA. 2011;306(9):971-7.

About the author

Kai-Yuan is a PhD student at the University College London working on a project regarding the mental health of gender minorities in Taiwan. Kai has an enduring passion in mental health, global health, and gender study. His master dissertation was on depression among gender nonconforming children. He graduated from medical school in Taiwan in 2016. Kai served as the president of FMS-Taiwan from 2013-2014, as the plenary chair of the IFMSA AM2014 held in Taiwan and was part of IFMSA’s delegation to the 69th World Health Assembly.

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

the European Sting Milestones

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

Trump’s Syrian hit the softest option vis-a-vis Russia

Crimean crisis: not enough to slow down European indices

The Chinese solar panels suddenly became too cheap for Europe

Main results of Foreign Affairs EU Council, 16/07/2018

The EU seals CETA but plans to re-baptise TTIP after missing the 2016 deadline

EU integration: MEPs want to end permanent opt-outs from EU law

UN rights chief ‘appalled’ by US border detention conditions, says holding migrant children may violate international law

Consultant in Forensic Technology – 1969

EU summit: No energy against tax evasion and fraud

How our food system is eating away at nature, and our future

Peace operations benefit from improved cooperation between the UN and troop-providing countries, says peacekeeping chief

Memoirs from a unique trip to China: “my new old dragon” (Part II)

UN and African Union in ‘common battle’ for development and climate change financing

The Bavarians threaten Berlin and Brussels with immigration crisis

EU Commission announces Safe Harbour 2.0 and a wider Data protection reform

Praising Roma’s contributions in Europe, UN expert urges end to rising intolerance and hate speech

Brexit: MEPs concerned over reported UK registration plans for EU27 citizens

This Chinese megacity is building a giant waste-to-energy plant

Here’s how we reboot digital trade for the 21st century

Syria: Civilians caught in crossfire, UN refugee chief urges Jordan to open its border

Children who exercise have more brain power, finds study

A Europe that protects: Continued efforts needed on security priorities

UN rights chief calls for release of hundreds abducted and abused in South Sudan

‘Let the children live’: UN prepares to ramp up food aid to Yemen as famine risk grows

FEATURE: Niger’s girls find sanctuary in fistula treatment centres

IMF’s Lagarde: Ukraine must fight corruption

European Commission recommends common EU approach to the security of 5G networks

Help prevent children ‘from becoming victims in the first place’, implores Guterres at campaign launch

COP21 Business update: Companies urge now for carbon pricing as coal is still a big issue

The Japanese have a word to help them be less wasteful – ‘mottainai’

6 facts to know about EU alternative investment funds

Why do US presidential elections last so long? And 4 other things you need to know

It will take a lot more than free menstrual pads to end period poverty

Who should be responsible for protecting our personal data?

WHO study reveals ‘game-changer’ drug with potential to save thousands of women’s lives in childbirth

UN chief condemns student abductions in north-west Cameroon

The Commission unsuccessfully pretends to want curbing of tax evasion

To win combat against HIV worldwide, ‘knowledge is power’, says UNAIDS report

A new European banking space is born this year

Caspian Sea deal an invaluable step towards easing regional tensions, says UN Chief

EU budget deal struck with Parliament negotiators

Three ideas for leaders to be more successful in the 21st century

‘All efforts must be made’ to ensure peaceful elections for Guinea-Bissau, Security Council hears

Young people all over the world come together to demand paid good quality internships

Banks suffocate the real economy by denying loans

For how long will terror and economic stagnation be clouding the European skies?

UN chief praises Japanese climate resilience, as Typhoon Hagibis cleanup begins

Why Eurozone needs a bit more inflation

Don’t understand the US-China trade war? This metaphor could help

India-UN fund gets 22 development projects off the ground in first year

China’s New Normal and Its Relevance to the EU

Here are 3 alternative visions for the future of work

Millions at risk if Syria’s war moves to last redoubt of Idlib, warns senior aid official

Commission to decide on bank resolution issues

The European Sting writes down the history LIVE from G20 Leaders’ Summit in Turkey

Breaking barriers between youth in the new tech era: is there an easy way through?

Why strive for Industry 4.0

UN health experts warn ‘dramatic resurgence’ of measles continues to threaten the European region

Russia to cut gas supplies again: can the EU get back to growth without a solid energy market?

Keep Africa’s guns ‘from firing in the first place’, UN political chief urges

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s