by Paul Evans, Director of Business Development, Behavioral Health & Wellness Center at The Medical Center of Aurora
Whether revered for a world record-setting decathlon victory in the 1976 Montreal Olympics, or detested for a prominent role in the ever dramatic E! Series, “Keeping up with the Kardashians,” one thing remains clear, everyone tends to have an opinion about Caitlyn Jenner.
Millennials were not alive for the 1976 Olympics, and many never kept up with the Kardashians, so most of us find ourselves being introduced to Jenner as her new self, her true self, a woman brave enough to share with the entire world her public transformation from Bruce to Caitlyn some two years ago.
Jenner has joined many others in educating the public, emphasizing an increasing need to continue to develop awareness and access to behavioral health care intervention for all people, but especially the transgender and gender non-conforming community.
As reported in the 2016 National Transgender Discrimination survey, a staggering 41 percent of trans and gender nonconforming individuals self-reported that they attempted suicide in 2016. These numbers shed light on an even more pressing issue which is that according to the most recent data from the Treatment Advocacy Center, a national nonprofit organization focusing on eliminating barriers to the timely treatment of behavioral health issues, Colorado holds the 34th spot in the nation having a mere 10 inpatient mental health beds per 100,000 residents. The current suggested clinical minimum is five times that amount. Colorado’s need for services is clear, and yet we are still a long way away from fixing the problem.
The Medical Center of Aurora has responded to the needs of the community, including adding inpatient and outpatient services for adolescents 11 and older in the summer of 2016 and providing a specific inpatient treatment track for transgender and non-gender conforming individuals who also struggle with mental illness.
To be clear, the work that is being done by the state to try and help more people gain access to mental health services should be applauded, including implementing the State Innovation Model (SIM), and taking measures to keep the chronically mentally ill out of the prison systems, especially in rural areas.
The Medical Center of Aurora has responded to the needs of the community, including adding inpatient and outpatient services for adolescents 11 and older in the summer of 2016 and providing a specific inpatient treatment track for transgender and non-gender conforming individuals who also struggle with mental illness. The program is called Fluidity and launched in June. It includes “Safe Zone” trained staff and patient groups focused on, among many things, gender affirmation and health body image.
Says Dr. Jamie Sorenson, the lead psychiatrist for the Fluidity program, “Witnessing open discrimination towards transgender and gender non-conforming individuals trying to obtain healthcare from well-meaning and brilliant mentors throughout my career was the inspiration for Fluidity. I am at a position in my career where I have the ability to institute change, and I’m taking action because we all deserve equally compassionate healthcare.”
Bruce, the athlete, achieved many athletic accomplishments, but we should all thank Caitlyn Jenner for being a champion for the transgender community, and someone that, at the very least, joined a national conversation around the topic of being trans. Regardless of your opinion on the matter, it is urgent that we continue the conversation so those who need behavioral health intervention feel comfortable seeking it.
To learn more about The Medical Center of Aurora’s Behavioral Health and Wellness services, visit www.AuroraMed.com/MentalHealth or call 844-556-2012.