Flourish Therapy receives a grant to support LGBTQ+ mental health servicesDec 04, 2022 11:03AM ● By Peri Kinder
By Peri Kinder | [email protected]
When Lisa Tensmeyer Hansen graduated from Brigham Young University in 1990, she knew she wanted to improve mental health in the LGBTQ+ community. After finishing her master’s degree and Ph.D., both from BYU, she’s done exactly what she promised.
Hansen opened Flourish Counseling in 2017 and changed it to the nonprofit Flourish Therapy in 2019. The clinic’s mission is to expand affordable behavioral and mental health services for LGBTQ+ individuals, couples and families.
“Mental health is often a product of what it means to feel valuable in a community or society and have something to contribute. That’s repeatedly missing here in Utah,” Hansen said. “Navigating family dynamics is an important part of what we do.”
Using only word-of-mouth advertising, Flourish Therapy (10718 S. Beckstead Lane) in South Jordan, and an additional clinic in Utah County, handles 100 new applications each month from people looking for services. The clinic provides 500 free sessions per month and 75% of the clients pay $50 or less. No one is ever turned away based on ability to pay.
With 36 therapists, Flourish Therapy is helping families understand there’s a spectrum from tolerance to celebrating an LGBTQ+ family member. Most families are somewhere in the middle because they don’t know how to celebrate something unfamiliar. But it’s important for LGBTQ+ individuals to feel included in the systems that are meaningful to them, starting with family.
“A lot of the depression, social anxiety and PTSD symptoms that clients at our clinic experience are not because there’s something wrong with them, it’s because they are interacting with a community that does not know how to make good use of them,” Hansen said. “We feel we’re right in the center of that work for a population that experiences much higher suicidal ideation in general. We’re doing the work to help support them, so they stay a part of us.”
Hansen said research has proven that students who attend schools making room for LGBTQ+ young people have a higher success rate for all students. When they talk about inclusion and take action against bullying, students understand there is room for everyone.
Children in other marginalized groups have family members they can watch to learn how to navigate through situations where they’re not in the majority. But as youth recognize their identity is not the straight, cisgender identity their family assumes, they have to be bold enough to ask for help.
“When we become comfortable with diverse people of all races, ethnicities, genders and orientations actually leading us in some way, as opposed to being second-class citizens, the better our society will be,” she said.
Moving the needle from tolerance to celebration means rubbing shoulders with those different from us, working on projects that benefit the whole community, recognizing others are like ourselves and genuinely caring about each other.
“We need to ask ourselves why aren’t we making room for them to have success in their lives. Why can’t they be mentors for my children? Why can’t they teach us what they know? Why would we do something that’s not helpful to them?” Hansen asked.
Flourish Therapy was awarded $3,000 from SelectHealth, recognizing its efforts to make Utah a healthier place to live. It was one of 20 organizations selected to receive the grant.
“The SelectHealth Awards is designed to highlight the notable work and contributions of organizations that are making an incredible impact in our community,” said Marti Lolli, SelectHealth president and CEO. “These awards allow SelectHealth to continue to show support for key partners and organizations who have a shared mission and wake up every day thinking about how to make a difference in the communities we serve.”
For more information, or to make a donation, visit FlourishTherapy.org.