OSU-Tulsa graduate students Brendon Glon and Jess White plan to establish a mental health hotline for the gay, lesbian and transgender community this summer as part of their new role as Tulsa Schweitzer Fellows.
The hotline will operate from Tulsa’s Dennis R. Neill Equality Center and will be the first such Oklahoma-based service for the LGBTQ community.
Both doctoral students in counseling psychology, Glon and White are among 12 graduate students named 2018-19 Schweitzer Fellows in Tulsa and 260 nationally.
Their hotline project is an extension of ongoing services provided to the Equality Center by the OSU-Tulsa Counseling Center.
The counseling center provides training for OSU graduate students and affordable mental health counseling for the community.
Help when needed
As Schweitzer Fellows, Glon and White are required to develop and implement a year-long service project addressing the root causes of health disparities in underserved communities.
“A lot of LGBTQ people feel hesitant to reach out to a mental health professional and make an appointment,” White said. “This will be a stepping stone for a lot of folks toward getting the help they need.”
Although the Equality Center has a helpline, it is mostly a referral service.
The new hotline will enable callers to get immediate help with mental health issues and address the high volume of calls to the center from people seeking mental health services, White said.
“The Equality Center is underfunded and relies on volunteers for all of its services,” Glon said. “This hotline will provide much-needed assistance for this community.”
Specialized training for graduate interns
White said the hotline will be staffed by master’s level counseling interns from several area universities.
Not only will their time as hotline counselors count toward an academic internship, but graduate interns will train to work with the LGBTQ community.
“There aren’t a lot of training opportunities for counselors and interns in working with this population,” White said. “It can feel daunting for some. This will give them a chance to learn a specialization and work on competencies and confidence.”
White and Glon will supervise the service and are already seeking ways to make the hotline sustainable past the year of their project.
“This is about finding a need and filling it,” White said. “We’re very excited to be able to give back to this community and the Equality Center.”
To learn more about the Schweitzer Fellowship, visit the Tulsa Schweitzer Fellows website.