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Devereux Arizona provides health education, counseling for LGBTQ youth through community partnership

Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health Arizona recently collaborated with the University of Arizona Southwest Institute for Research on Women (SIROW) and the Southern Arizona AIDS Foundation (SAAF) to provide health education, as well as mental and behavioral health services for LGBTQ youth.

The collaboration, called Spectrum, was funded through a five-year Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) grant awarded to SIROW.

“I am incredibly proud of all we accomplished with our community partners over the past five years to provide much-needed services and support for LGBTQ youth in the Tucson area,” said Devereux Arizona Executive Director Yvette Jackson, LMSW, DBH. “While the Spectrum program has concluded, the positive impact of our efforts will be felt for years to come as we offered individuals a safe place where they could feel seen, heard and understood, and equipped them with tools and resources to make informed decisions about their overall well-being.”

SIROW Associate Research Social Scientist Courtney Waters, MPH, M.S., noted. “We are greatly appreciative of Devereux’s contributions to the Spectrum program. The organization’s collaboration enabled hundreds of youth to receive comprehensive, high quality sexuality education and dozens more to receive affirming mental and behavioral healthcare. Partnering with Devereux was an absolute pleasure, and we look forward to opportunities for future collaboration.”

Devereux’s role in Spectrum

Devereux Arizona’s role in the Spectrum program was to educate LGBTQ youth in the community, ages 13 to 24, about a variety of topics, including sexuality; sexual and reproductive anatomy and physiology; sexually transmitted infections; positive communication; and healthy relationships. In addition, Devereux Arizona offered mental and behavioral health services to those individuals seeking additional support.

“We held education sessions at Tucson area schools, as well as our campus,” explained Devereux Arizona Director of Outpatient Services Bonnie Barnes, MSC, LPC, CCTP, NCC, BHP. “Youth who may have been struggling with gender identity or feelings of isolation had the opportunity to meet with like-minded peers, safely and openly discuss their issues and concerns, and receive critical information they could use to inform their health and wellness decisions moving forward. For those experiencing mental or behavioral health challenges, they were referred to a Devereux Arizona clinician for therapeutic services.”

Gaining skills, knowledge

Youth who participated in Spectrum say the program provided them with valuable skills and knowledge. Look below to read just a few testimonials.

“During our Spectrum classes, I had the best time. Throughout the whole week, the team truly created the most accepting, inclusive, educational and loving space possible. These classes gave me all of the tools I need to not only keep myself safe, but also to lead healthy conversations about sex to keep other safe.”
Spectrum participant

“I learned how to be a good communicator, how to ask for consent, how to give consent, anatomy of both genitalia, and information on sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV.”
Spectrum participant

“I learned a lot more about STIs and protective methods than I had in previous courses.”
Spectrum participant

Barnes shared, “The Spectrum program was a huge success – it connected youth to their community, supplied them with resources to support their goals and needs, and helped them realize they are not alone.”

Learn more about Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health’s efforts to support the LGBTQ community.

 

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