As a future psychologist and as a queer individual, Andreana found that there was a lack of adequate academic resources, information, and psycho-education on gender and sexuality, despite it having an important role in development. On top of that, medicalization and stigmatization followed any discussion of homosexuality/homoerotism and trans identities in the academic courses she attended.
As an LGBTQI+ individual who has had their fair share of being diagnosed with multiple mental health “disorders”, Andreana found herself sitting in patient chairs, letting psychologists cause her further harm whether it be due to their ignorance on LGBTQI+ issues or even evident queerphobia. The milestones achieved during Andreana’s coming out process were labeled as signs of symptomatology while their feelings of guilt and shame were fed by the heteronormative attitudes.
Andreana wanted to prevent younger queer individuals from suffering the same way they had in the past, by facilitating seminars on LGBTQI+ identities’ psychology in public universities.
Andreana’s project aimed to sensitize young academics on SOGI issues and bring forward the updated guidelines on de-pathologizing (de-medicalizing) persons belonging to the broader LGBTQI+ community.
An alarmingly high rate of the overall LGBTQI+ community find themselves seeking mental health and psychosocial support services by professionals. These professionals need to be up to date with and informed of the respective guidelines, recent research, and academic developments on SOGI issues. They need to recognize and reject the long and dark scientific past of pathologization towards diverse sexualities and identities. Andreana’s project addressed the queerphobia of future mental health professionals.
Andreana’s HIA Fellowship was followed by their participation in the scientific team of Orlando LGBT+ Mental Health without Stigma. The passion for advocacy on LGBTQI+ rights has brought together mental health professionals who aspire to create a more inclusive environment for queer persons. Aiming at opening a dialogue based on the updated and fully informed scientific data, Orlando LGBT+ managed to create the first course on a psychology department of a Greek public university for LGBTQI+ issues.