OUT Maine awarded $25,000 to support LGBTQ+ youth in Maine and improve mental health

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OUT Maine Mental Health Coordinator

Maura Oakes LCPC (she/her/hers)

OUT Maine is pleased to announce it has received generous support from Jane’s Trust Foundation in the amount of $25,000 to continue its work with and for LGBTQ+ youth in Maine.

OUT Maine was founded in 1996 as a volunteer-run organization that provided support for midcoast LGBTQ+ youth. Since 2016, OUT Maine has been a fully-staffed, statewide organization with a four-pronged rural-community-focused model. 

The four prongs are (1) building youth capacity and self-esteem, (2) improving school climate, (3) weaving a safety net of supportive community providers, and (4) supporting parents and families. This year, OUT’s work in the third prong focuses on mental health providers. 

In Maine high schools, 26.4% of Maine’s high school teens identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or questioning of their gender identity/status, as reported by the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Maine CDC). These youth are very vulnerable and experience poor mental health, as revealed in the 2021 Maine Integrated Youth Health Survey conducted by the Maine Department of Education and the Maine CDC. According to the survey, LGBTQ+ youth are 2.5 times more likely to report mental health as “not good” (64% LGBTQ+ vs. 25% non-LGBTQ+).

By addressing the mental health needs of Maine’s queer youth, providers can help them avoid harmful behaviors and instead build connections, skills, and hope for the future. OUT Maine’s goal is to help more providers accomplish this.

OUT Maine is developing a network of therapists through partnerships with Universities training the next generation of mental health professionals. The organization is also building a statewide network of affirming therapists through training, ongoing education, and support.

Mental health is not an unfamiliar topic to OUT Maine, with three mental health professionals on its board and staff.

“Mental Health and wellness has always been a priority for OUT Maine,” says OUT Maine’s Mental Health Coordinator Maura Oakes, “We are thrilled to be able to support LGBTQ+ youth by informing our programming and resources with a focus on mental health & wellbeing.”

OUT Maine has an ambitious goal: to create more welcoming and affirming communities for Maine’s diverse queer youth in all their intersectional identities by changing the very systems that serve them. For more information, please visit www.outmaine.org.