Pride Month – How To Be an Ally LGBTQIA Community – Katrin Moskowitz, DNP, PMHNP, Psychiatric/Family Nurse Practitioner


Gorgeous Wednesday morning on FM 97.3 WZBG and Wednesday is the third one of the month we get a visit with the folks from the McCall Center for Behavioral Health and Health Inc. Our message, if you’ve been hearing our messages that McCall runs during the month, the message this month is an outreach and an embracement of the LBTT QIA community. We’re going to be on that track a little bit this morning with our guests. We’d like to welcome Dr. Katrin Moskowitz. She’s psychiatric family nurse practitioner with McCall. Katrin, welcome to the show. Good morning. Thank you for having me. Thanks for joining us on the program. One thing we talk about a lot with McCall is the whole idea of care being holistic and embracing the whole person. Let’s start off with that and part of that involves understanding who they are at their core.

That’s the essence of what we’re talking about this morning. Absolutely. I think that when individuals come to us for care, one of their big worries is that we’re not taking into account where they’re coming from, what their past has been, and what their future is looking like. We really take a lot of time at McCall’s to be able to explore that with our clients. And understanding that each of those layers actually impacts their mental health. And so if we’re not addressing those layers, then really we’re not taking care of the patient on that holistic and that whole level. Isn’t that kind of universal? You hear about the phrase, I finally feel like I’m being seen for who you really are. And when you’re seen and then accepted, opens all kinds of doors. Absolutely. And it should be universal. And we should be doing this in all aspects of our lives.

But I think there’s a lot of things that happen in regards to stigma and internal biases that we have that keeps us from being able to open ourselves to that understanding. But I think if we think about ourselves on our core level, we want people to know us for who we are from the inside out. And we want to be able to feel comfortable with who we’re encountering to be able to express what that might be. Isn’t this really at its core dialoguing? Now, you know, I’ve been around for a long minute. I remember growing up and in the broader community, I had no knowledge. And we didn’t talk about it. And for some people, it’s hard to start that conversation and to get past those unconscious biases that you’re not even calling conscious for a reason. So let’s talk about icebreakers and conversation starters. I think within healthcare, we’ve done a really great job in starting to screen our patients as soon as they walk in the door.

So from paperwork that you fill out, which now asks for your, you know, pronouns and for your gender identity to actually be able to identify that or have patients be able to identify that. But absolutely, the second layer of that is the person that’s reading and accepting that information to understand what to do with that. And I think McCalls is a really great job in being able to provide those educational experiences for their staff to be able to say, okay, I have this information now. How do I start that conversation in a way that is compassionate, unbiased in order for that client to again continue to want to explore that level? So I think that’s what you need to do. And if you don’t know, then figure out or be able to explore those resources that is going to be able to give you that information in the correct manner. There’s definitely a lot of information out there that we can explore. But it isn’t necessarily the right information. And if you don’t know, then, you know, really be open-minded, open-hearted to be able to discover where that information might lie out there.

Really that open-mindedness, I think, is where you begin. If you can start with that and then try to gain the right information to start a conversation, you know, admittedly, a lot of folks in the public sphere may not maybe afraid to initiate the conversation because they’re afraid right out of the gate that they’re going to offend. And some of those biases, those unconscious biases, it’s going to come out. And then it’s like, all right, where do I go from here? Because now it’s all kinds of awkward. Yeah. I think you should pre-game the conversation. You know, be honest with the person that you’re talking to. You know, if they want to start that conversation to be able to say, you know what, I don’t know much about what you are talking about. But I’m willing to listen. I’m willing to learn.

That is mainly how I got into being able to support the community. I didn’t have a lot of knowledge, but I had individuals that were coming to me asking for help. And I said, all right, I’m willing to help, but I need to learn. And I’m willing to learn with you as long as you’re willing to, you know, accept that I may not know at all. And throughout that, I’ve learned so much. And it isn’t based knowledge that I might have had, but that I’ve been able to pick up along the way, either through the support of employers like McCaws is able to go to different conferences and be able to expand my knowledge base. Or again, just to talk to my patients and say, you know, what are your biggest concerns in regards to this? How can I support you? And if I can’t support you, how best can we get you connected with those community supports? When we talk about folks that are under care at McCall, you know, the common denominator is that they are battling some kind of substance by and large.

Let’s talk about the connection between those demons that they’re fighting and folks who are part of the LGBTQIA community and how much more preponderance there might be that they might have trouble because of, again, the things that we’re talking about being seen being understood in the wider community. Yeah, and it all goes back to stigma. Yeah. You know, many years ago, if someone talked about, you know, their gender identity or things like that, it was not readily accepted. And so a lot of our individuals then self-medicated themselves to be able to take care of those mental health symptoms that were that connection to not being able to be their true selves out there in the community. And so oftentimes when we take that substance away, then we’re left with those mental health symptoms. And so, again, layer by layer, we then have to determine where do these mental health symptoms come from.

And a lot of times it is either undiagnosed, untreated, anxiety depression or trauma and triggers like nonacceptance being stigmatized, not being able to live their true self. And so once you start to take away those layers and open up that conversation, we can actually start to take care of the root cause versus just sticking band-aids on problems, which is that, you know, that’s amazing. And to see people come out of their shells and to have that conversation and just feel like that there are themselves, that is the development and that is a transformation that we’re looking to accomplish that, McCalls. So in helping folks that, again, like you said, coming out of their shell, being able to break through and get to that place so that they feel comfortable, they feel that sense of trust so that you can, again, begin to get to the core of the problem because until you get there, like you said, it’s just band-aids, you’ve got to find the root and tear that out. Absolutely, absolutely. And I think that’s what they appreciate.

You know, you had talked before about being seen, but I think the other thing is about being heard. You know, we can sit there and listen, but until we truly hear our patients and really start to understand where they’re coming from, that is where that trust and where that communication starts to be able to build. If you’re just joining us, our guest this morning is Dr. Katrin Moskowitz and she is Psychiatric Family Nurse Practitioner with McCalls Center for Behavioral Health. Incredibly, your time is already up. It goes very quickly. Closing thought, just for the general public out there, again, is we, you know, recognize and look at that broader community, the folks in the LBGTQIA community, just a closing thought for, and give people, you know, something, leave them with something as we, as we end our interview this morning. Absolutely. I would just say have the courage to be your own authentic self and surround yourself with that support and that community that is going to be able to allow you to be that person for yourself.

Dr. Moskowitz, appreciate having you on the show. Thank you. Appreciate your time. All the best to all the folks at the McCalls Center and at Help Enk, we have these interviews every third Wednesday and we’d love to have you back sometime. Thank you. Thanks so much. Back to the newsroom. We’ll be right back.