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GVSU LGBTQIA Wellness
Accessing and Using GVSU Mental Health Care Services: A short guide for LGBTQIA Faculty and Staff
In 2019, the LGBTQ FSA managed a series of focus groups for the membership, and one of the concerns raised was about the difficulty finding and using LGBTQ friendly health care services. In response, the FSA spent some time exploring available options with the help of GVSU Human Resources. We had direct conversations with representatives from the services outlined below. The information we collected is consolidated here in this guide. The intent is to help guide you to resources that best suit your mental healthcare needs, as well as give you recourse if those services don’t meet your needs.
GVSU offers access to two services related to mental health: Encompass, and a referral service through Spectrum Health that employs a registered nurse and social worker.
Encompass is a third-party Employee Assistance Program. Essentially, they are independent contractors employed by the university to help provide various kinds of assistance to employees, including counseling services. A full description of the services they provide can be found at:
There are some important limitations of this service that LGBT employees should be aware of:
- The service is intended for short-term needs. GVSU employees are entitled to roughly seven free sessions as part of the service. If you have long term counseling or mental health needs, this is not the service for you.
- Counselors are not guaranteed to have specific competencies or knowledge. While counselors should never make you feel uncomfortable because of your gender/orientation, they are also not guaranteed to have specific knowledge of or experience with LGBTQIA issues. If you need a counselor with specific knowledge of or experience with treating LGBTQIA people, or if you need a counselor with experience with a specific issue, such as substance abuse counseling, navigating the coming-out process, or gender dysphoria, this is not the service for you.
If you’re unsure of whether or not Encompass is the right choice for your needs, the FSA would encourage you not to use it, and instead use the referral service (described below). Encompass should refer you to a different provider if they cannot meet your needs, but it will probably be faster to just use the referral service.
If you have feedback about the Encompass service (good or bad), you can report it to:
Work Life Consultant
If you don’t feel comfortable doing this on your own, contact the LGBTQ FSA (email@example.com). We have relationships with both Elisa and Encompass and can assist.
GVSU employees have access to a qualified social worker and nurse whose job is to help refer you to health care providers in the community, for both mental and physical care. They will work one-on-one with you to define your needs and then try to match you with a local in-network provider. More information about the service, including contact information, can be found here:
As with Encompass, this service has specific limitations:
- Referrers often have to rely on information given by the provider themselves. The referrers rely on information networks whose data is often populated by the providers themselves. Nothing is stopping providers from listing themselves as queer-friendly if they are not, or as having a specific expertise when they don’t. While the FSA is satisfied the referrers try to act in the best interests of the user, they simply don’t have the resources to vet every single provider personally.
- What they know about the provider is often limited. Unless a provider specifically lists competency with a specific issue in the information networks the referrers use, they likely won’t know about it. Depending on how specific your need is, what providers are available, and what they know about them, they may or may not be able to find an exact match for your needs.
If you have feedback about a provider you are referred to (good or bad), report it to the referrer. The social worker and care manager have assured the FSA that they can and will drop providers from their service if they receive complaints. Likewise, positive feedback is also helpful for referring others.
If you have feedback about your interactions with the social worker or the care manager themselves (positive or negative), you can report it to Elisa Salazar, as above. Again, if you do not feel comfortable doing this on your own, the FSA can help.
LGBTQIA Service Directory
A directory of LGBTQIA Services created and maintained by GVSU faculty and staff. Know of a queer-friendly provider? Consider adding them to the list!
Other directories that may be useful: