LGBTQ Training to Become A Safe and Affirming Treatment Environment

By Gaan Akers, LPC, NCC | February 28, 2019

LGBT Mental Health Training

Hillside recently conducted several campus-wide LGBTQ training sessions for our clinical team and all campus staff focusing on the challenges, mental health needs and best practices for LGBTQ Youth in PRTF (Psychiatric Residential Treatment Facility) & Foster Care.

We’re excited to announce that we’ve begun the process to acquire an HRC seal of recognition from the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) – showing that we’re working to become a safe and affirming environment for treating LGBTQ youth and adolescents in Atlanta and beyond.
Our clinical team began our LGBTQ mental health training by understanding the concepts of sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression, also known as SOGIE. We also identified unique challenges experienced by lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning/queer (LGBTQ) youth and the effects on their mental health. It’s important that we understand our role as individuals and mental health care providers in creating an LGBTQ safe space environment and affirming treatment program. We’re familiarizing ourselves with best practice strategies and mental health treatment principles to best serve our LGBTQ patients.
Our LGBT education also covered the risk factors and effects of stigma for LGBTQ youth. 20-40% of homeless youth identify as LGBTQ and LGTBQ questioning youth are more likely to experience depression or suicidality than LGBT-identified peers. Faced with the above challenges and marginalization, Hillside understands the importance of LGBTQ acceptance and empathy for the adversity their community faces. Youth are more likely to engage in care if the environment communicates safety and acceptance and are more likely to follow health recommendations when providers demonstrate open-mindedness, have basic knowledge of SOGIE, ask questions, and apologize when mistakes are made.
To further create a safe and affirming treatment environment that provides hope and healing to all youth served, including those that identify as LGBTQ, we are dedicated to collaborating as an organization through ongoing evaluation of our programs and problem-solving for the best treatment outcomes.
If you’d like to learn more about our continued training or have questions about a youth who may be interested in treatment, contact us today.

LGBTQ Staff Training LGBTQ Education Class


  • Gaan Akers, LPC, NCC

    Director of Clinical Education & Outreach - Gaan has been working with children, adolescents, and families for over 10 years in various settings. In her current role, she provides education and training for mental health professionals, parents, and the community. She lives in Atlanta with her husband. In her free time, she enjoys reading, hiking, climbing, and cooking. She is a donut aficionado and a national park enthusiast!

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Current Version
May 9, 2024
Written By: Angie Hoke
Edited By: Angie Hoke
February 28, 2019
Medically Reviewed By: Angie Hoke