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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Yale: LGBTQ Mental Health Research a Priority at Yale School of Public Health

As a psychiatrist, Yale alumnus Dr. David R. Kessler, not only understands the anxiety that can consume individuals who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer or questioning (LGBTQ) regarding their decision to reveal their sexual orientation, but he lived it. Dr. Kessler, who publicly affirmed his sexuality in 1978, wants to help other LGBTQ individuals who may be struggling to come out or who are dealing with stigma, oppression, and other issues impacting their mental health.

Dr. Kessler recently made a gift of $200,000 to support the work of Yale School of Public Health associate professor Dr. John Pachankis, and his Esteem Research Group, which is dedicated to addressing the depression, anxiety and substance use problems that disproportionately affect the LGBTQ community. A clinical psychologist, Dr. Pachankis, is internationally known for his development of novel psychosocial interventions to improve LGBTQ individuals’ mental health.

Dr. Kessler also is directing $5 million from his estate to the Yale School of Public Health, part of which is intended for the creation of a David R. Kessler Endowed Professorship. The professorship and accompanying resource fund will support teaching and research associated with improving LGBTQ mental health.

“Dr. Kessler’s generosity will ensure that LGBTQ mental health research geared toward preventive and therapeutic interventions will be part of YSPH under Dr. Pachankis’ leadership and on in perpetuity,” said YSPH dean, Dr. Sten Vermund, who has made improving LGBTQ mental health a priority of his administration.

“The majority of the world still lives in conditions that are not stigma-free when it comes to LGBTQ acceptance, including many areas of the U.S. and parents are still sending their gay children to conversion therapy,” said Dr. Pachankis.