October 2020

Addressing Behavioral Health Disparities Among the LGBTQ Community is Focus of SSW Institute Grant Award

October 30, 2020    |  

Contact: Mary T. Phelan

Ph: 443-615-5810 (mobile)



Addressing Behavioral Health Disparities Among the LGBTQ Community is Focus of SSW Institute Grant Award

SAMHSA Provides Funding for Establishing a Center of Excellence to Improve Behavioral Health Equity

BALTIMORE, MD.The Institute for Innovation and Implementation at the University of Maryland School of Social Work (SSW) has been awarded a 5-year, $3.5 million grant to support the implementation of change strategies within mental health and substance use disorder treatment systems to address disparities impacting the LGBTQ+ community.

The grant, recently awarded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), will allow the Institute and participating partners to establish a Center for Excellence on LGBTQ+ Behavioral Health Equity (CfE LGBTQ BHE).

The intent of the project is to provide health care practitioners with best and evidence-based practices and implementation strategies that directly reduce disparities among the LGBTQ+ population across mental health and substance use disorder treatment systems. Current data on disparities among LGBTQ+ people highlights the importance of more tailored and culturally responsive behavioral health services. The goals of this CfE LGBTQ BHE include increasing awareness and understanding of these disparities among providers, families, and youth; increasing practitioner knowledge and skill, and accelerating the adoption of best and evidence-based practices shown to reduce disparities.

“It is a privilege lead this Center,” said Marlene Matarese, PhD, MSW, deputy director of the Institute, clinical associate professor at the SSW, and principal investigator for this project. “This is another opportunity to build on The Institute’s work in improving practice and shifting systems to be inclusive and culturally responsive to the needs and experiences of the LGBTQ+ community.”

The CfE LGBTQ BHE is a partnership with Affirmative Research and Judge Baker Children’s Center, Harvard Medical School with an expert pool that includes individuals with lived experience; leaders from provider organizations that are implementing best practices to address behavioral health disparities among the LBGTQ+ community; and researchers and clinical experts skilled in translating research into practice in mental health and substance use practice settings.

“The Institute has been working for the past five years on designing and implementing interventions that improve care for LGBTQ+ youth in foster care through a grant from the Children’s Bureau,” said Michelle Zabel, MSS, assistant dean and director of the Institute. “This experience, along with our expertise in mental health and substance use systems, makes the Institute well suited for work on this Center for Excellence to reduce disparities among LGBTQ+ populations of all ages.”

Angela Weeks, MPA

Angela Weeks, MPA

Angela Weeks, MPA, is the project director for this Center. Weeks expressed appreciation to SAMHSA for “prioritizing the need to address behavioral health disparities, historically linked to discrimination or exclusion, as a critical component of holistic behavioral health for LGBTQ+ populations across the U.S.,” Weeks said. “I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to provide training and skill building for practitioners to recognize and address bias so that it does not impact the care they provide.”

Among the SSW faculty and staff members who will contribute to the QICR along with Matarese and Weeks, are Elizabeth Greeno, PhD, MSW, LCSW-C, who will be the lead evaluator; Paige Hammond, MHS; Lyndsay Smith; and Sarah Warner, MSW.

For more information, contact Mary T. Phelan, senior media relations specialist at maryphelan@umaryland.edu or 443-615-5810.

About the Institute for Innovation & Implementation (the Institute)

The Institute for Innovation & Implementation (the Institute), founded in 2005, is a part of the University of Maryland School of Social Work. The Institute is committed to building research-based, innovative, sustainable, and transformative youth-and family-serving systems and services, and to develop the capacity of the workforce within these systems. They do this work in partnership with government agencies, health care providers, and community-based organizations in order to improve outcomes for and with youth and their families.

About the University of Maryland School of Social Work

The University of Maryland School of Social Work, founded in 1961, is highly ranked and respected. Its mission is to develop practitioners, leaders, and scholars to advance the well-being of populations and communities and to promote social justice. As national leaders, they create and use knowledge for education, service innovation, and policy development.

About the University of Maryland, Baltimore

Founded in 1807, the University of Maryland, Baltimore is Maryland’s only public health, law, and human services university, dedicated to excellence in education, research, clinical care, and public service. UMB enrolls more than 6,700 students in six nationally ranked professional schools — medicine, law, dentistry, pharmacy, nursing, and social work — and an interdisciplinary Graduate School. The university provides more than $40 million each year in uncompensated care to Maryland citizens, and receives more than $667 million in extramural research funding annually. For more information about the University of Maryland, Baltimore visit www.umaryland.edu.