MAKING CHANGE ON A SYSTEMIC LEVEL
Our philosophy is that you can't truly improve the mental health of those in marginalized communities without addressing major systemic issues. As part of our work, we strive to make changes in the community by advocating for those in need here in Montana.
Big Sky Pride
In 2022, we started a Pride "float" for Montana Professional Mental Health Workers Fighting for LGBTQIA2s+ Rights. We have seen discrimination throughout public and private institutions throughout Montana, including in mental health-- a place where people need to feel safe, protected, and validated. For example, in some institutions in Montana that provide psychiatric and/or mental health care, some mental health workers, psychiatrists, doctors, and therapists refuse to become culturally competent in LGBTQIA2s+ issues, especially for trans and nonbinary individuals. This is unacceptable, as trans youth especially are extremely vulnerable to suicidal thoughts and attempts. Conversion "therapy" is also still legal in the state of Montana, which is a form of what is essentially torture that is inflicted on LGBTQIA2s+ individuals, using outdated behavioral modification techniques to "convert" trans and/or gay individuals into being straight and cisgendered. No scientific evidence exists that this is an effective treatment, and many studies show that it is highly traumatizing and unethical. Despite this, conversion therapy still exists, and our own Gov. Gianforte donated more than half a million dollars to gay conversion groups (Great Falls Tribune), prior to his run for governor. Allies need to stand up in the workplace and in legislation and advocate for change. We have an ongoing survey to identify discrimination in Montana mental health institutions. For more information or if you are a mental health professional and want to join us in 2023, email us at email@example.com!
This year (2023), we advocated in the MT Legislative Session for the rights of marginalized communities and to improve mental healthcare. This was particularly because this year introduced some of the worst anti-LGBTQIA2s+ bills that this state has seen in a long time-- possibly some of the worst legislation in the United States this year. This legislation directly impacts our clients and our abilities to do our jobs as allied therapists and mental health professionals. Senate Bill 458 effectively erases Two-Spirit, trans, and intersex identities in law. Senate Bill 99 prohibits trans youth from receiving gender-affirming care, and penalizes clinicians that provide it. The list goes on. Unfortunately, many of these bills passed, due to unprecedented levels of blatant heterosexism and transphobia, especially in the backlash of the silencing of House Rep. Zooey Zephyr. Healing Mountain Mental Health is now working with other public health, medical, and mental health providers to increase efforts to provide culturally-informed and appropriate preventative and crisis care.
We also advocated for advancing peer support as a profession (SB 198), as we recognize the potential of the peer support profession, and how it can significantly improve outcomes for those struggling with mental illness and addiction.
Additionally, we advocated for providing more comprehensive sex education in schools, to include consent and LGBTQIA2s+ education.
(Also pictured, the drag show on the Capitol steps protesting the anti-drag bill, HB 359).
Do you have a comment, concern, question, social justice opportunity, or just want someone to listen to your story? Use the comment box below and let us know!