The LGBTQ community has seen great progress in recent years. Still, LGBT youth are experiencing bullying, homelessness, and mental health distress at an alarming rate.
“According to a yearly survey from the media-monitoring organization GLAAD, 2017 marked the first time that their Accelerating Acceptance report showed a decline in its four-year history.”
What Mental Health Issues Do LGBT Teens Suffer From?
- Depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder is higher for LGBT teens.
- Suicide is one of the leading causes of death among LGBT individuals aged 10-24.
- LGBT youth engage in higher rates of self-harm and attempted suicide.
- 20 to 30 percent of LGBT teens abuse substances, compared to 9 percent of the general population.
Early Mental Health Interventions For LGBT Teens
LGBT teens lack access to preventative mental health care.
“LGBTQ youth often suffer in silence. They already feel stigmatized, so they are much more reluctant to discuss mental health issues. Many have been coping with feeling outside the norm for so long, they have developed strategies to mask their symptoms.”
Schools, Doctor’s offices, and community organizations can help. They can hang LGBT-friendly posters, artwork, and distribute queer-themed information pamphlets. Organizations need to show LGBT youth that mental health programs are available.
Inclusivity in Schools — Anti-Bullying Efforts
Schools need professional training programs and comprehensive policies. This helps to “create LGBTQ and gender-inclusive schools, prevent bullying, and support transgender and non-binary students.”
“Between 78 and 86 percent of LGBT students experience verbal harassment. Nearly a quarter of LGBT students report being physically attacked in school.” LGBT teens are more likely to miss school and join fewer activities.
Schools need to offer safer and more inclusive environments for LGBT students. Schools can start with Gay Straight Alliances (GSAs) and Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Networks (GLSEN).
Family Support For LGBT Teens
If you are a parent, you can help by “accepting your child’s identity. Parents can also encourage safe exploration of gender expression by providing access to age-appropriate toys, clothes, books and media.”
Parents need to make sure their teen feels safe, loved, and accepted. When teens lack support they face, “homelessness, physical violence, and sexual exploitation.”
To learn more about mental health, click here.