Special Advisor on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Mental Health Appointed

07/27/2011: Dr. John Krystal, Chair of the Yale School of Medicine Department of Psychiatry, announced the appointment of Andrew Solomon, a prominent author and lecturer, as special advisor on issues of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) mental health. The appointment recognizes the growing perception of a serious gap in clinical and research support nationally in meeting the mental health needs of the LGBT community.

"Andrew Solomon is a compelling and informative figure who has written and lectured extensively about the nature of depression and the interface of sexual orientation and mental illness. I cannot think of anyone better qualified to advise the Department as it strengthens its commitment to inclusion and diversity," said Dr. Krystal. "Our clinical, educational, and research programs must reflect the needs of every individual and every community that suffers from disparities in mental health care."

Solomon, an alumnus of Yale College who is currently pursuing a PhD at Cambridge University, serves as a Lecturer in Psychiatry at Cornell Medical School and as a fellow of Yale's Berkeley College. He is the author of The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression, which received the National Book Award in 2001. He was awarded the Humanitarian Award of the Society of Biological Psychiatry for his contributions to the field of mental health and currently serves on the board of directors of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.

This year the Institute of Medicine released The Health of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender People: Building a Foundation for Better Understanding, a survey commissioned by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to identify gaps in knowledge and research on the health of sexual minority populations. Last month, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) highlighted the report's mental health findings, primarily that the LGBT population appears to suffer from a higher rate of mood and anxiety disorders, depression, and suicidality at various stages of life. In 2007, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) initiated a process to engage its members and the LGBT community on the unique issues facing this population.

Andrew Solomon remarked, "The ubiquity of prejudice subjects members of the LGBTQ community to escalated rates of trauma, which in turn cause high rates of concomitant mental illness. It’s important that the mental health community be sensitized to the needs of this population. As gay marriage gains traction and more and more LGBTQ people have children, entrenched formal bigotry has begun to remit. The mental health needs of LGBTQ people are evolving; the mental health needs of those who have LGBTQ friends or children or parents or colleagues are likewise evolving. Yale’s Department of Psychiatry is among the finest in the world, and I am proud and honored to work with Dr. Krystal and the Department's faculty to identify opportunities for leadership on this important subject."