Prioritizing LGBTQIA+ Mental Health Through Inclusive Counseling Services - ADAMH Board of Franklin County

Prioritizing LGBTQIA+ Mental Health Through Inclusive Counseling Services

At the Alcohol, Drug and Mental Health Board of Franklin County (ADAMH), ensuring equitable access to quality, community-based services and supports for all Franklin County residents is essential. This June, in observance of Pride Month, we’re addressing how that commitment extends to the LGBTQIA+ community.

Nearly half of LGBTQIA+ adults (46%) in the United States say there was a time in the past three years when they needed mental health services but didn’t get them, with many reporting affordability and accessibility issues of these services, according to a recent study conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

They are also twice as likely as non-LGBTQIA+ adults to say they have experienced a severe mental health crisis that resulted in serious consequences like homelessness, hospitalization, incarceration, self-harm or suicide. ADAMH is actively combatting these alarming statistics by supporting LGBTQIA+ services within our network of care.

Since 2012, ADAMH has helped fund embedded counseling services at Stonewall Columbus through a partnership with North Central Mental Health Services. Treatment follows evidence-based clinical models and is available in the form of individual, couples, family and transgender therapy group counseling.

Abby Forshey, outpatient therapist and LGBTQIA+ specialist for North Central, said Stonewall’s location provides an inclusive atmosphere for those she councils. In addition to counseling services, the location includes additional community resources, other health care providers and activities and events specific to the LGBTQIA+ community.

Abby Forshey, outpatient therapist at North Central Mental Health Services

“The space that the Stonewall building offers is a warm and cozy place to be for the queer community,” she said. “I think it makes a big difference to walk into a space where you know the questions people are asking are going be a bit more tailored toward your experience, more affirming and certainly coming from a less judgmental place.”

Abby works with LGBTQIA+ clients ages 18 and up – seeing about 15 people a week – and primarily focuses on a person’s self-acceptance. As sessions continue, she works with clients on how accepting other parts of their lives, such as family and community, affects who they are.

“We’re working through an affirmative lens,” she said. “It's hard to come out, it's hard to tell your family and it's hard to sometimes get that acceptance from the people in your support group, so those are all major factors that we discuss with everybody who comes through our counseling services.”

North Central's counseling services at Stonewell are well-utilized. Abby believes this is because the community recognizes the importance of mental health care, making her work especially rewarding.

“It's just such an amazing thing to witness and to be a part of,” she said. “When somebody finally gets to a place of acceptance and feels ready to tackle whatever mental health challenges come up because they’re able to be their authentic self … it’s really impressive and amazing, and we should try to keep that ball rolling.”

For more information about Stonewall Columbus’ in-house counseling supported by North Central Mental Health Services, visit

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