My Toughest Case: Helping a youth with gender dysphoria and depression
Myo Thwin Myint, MD, FAAP, FAPA, DFAACAP / Child, adolescent and adult psychiatry at Tulane University, Children’s Tulane Pediatric Clinic, CrescentCare (Elysian Fields location) and the VA
From an early age, Dr. Myo Thwin Myint felt compelled to help underserved populations. A native of Myanmar, who moved to the U.S. at age 14, he noticed a “stigma of mental health” and wanted to heal people living with mental illness, particularly those of a younger generation and members of the LGBTQ community. He currently works in child, adolescent, and adult psychiatry, integrated with pediatric colleagues most of the time.
“Children, adolescents and young adults possess innocence, hope and resilience,” he said.
One of his biggest challenges was treating a youth with significant gender dysphoria, major depression and anxiety. The teen also had symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.
All of these conditions can have a good prognosis with evidence-based treatments, he said, but “it can take time and we are still in the middle of treatments.”
This transgender youth drove to New Orleans from several hours away; lacking access to providers who have been adequately trained made it even more difficult to receive help.
The individual’s family also struggled to understand the diversity and spectrum of gender and sexuality.
Myint helped identify a support team for that youth, a network that included an adolescent medicine pediatrician; community agencies; and The Trevor Project, the nonprofit organization that focuses on suicide prevention efforts for young people in the LGBTQ community.
“I worked with the youth, their friends, parents and caregiver – helping each to understand the complexity of mental health and to affirm the diverse identities – not just gender and sexuality, but also religion, race, ethnicity,” he said.
The young person’s issues reminded Myint that acceptance is a powerful healing mechanism. “Humility is the foundation to understand the unique and complex aspects that we each possess. Assuming things because of who we are, how we look and where we came from is not usually helpful. Rather, trying to understand the perspectives leads to better outcomes.”
Undergraduate: Virginia Commonwealth University
Medical School: Virginia Commonwealth University
Year Graduated: 2008