Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and other self-identified queer (LGBTQ) youth have higher rates of mental health issues than people in the general population. Research suggests that these mental health challenges correlate with factors such as family acceptance and bullying. This indicates that stigma and discrimination, and not being LGBTQ itself, may predict LGBTQ youth mental health difficulties.
The Trevor Project’s 2019 National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health found that 39% of LGBTQ youth seriously contemplated suicide in the prior year, with 71% of LGBTQ youth feeling sad or hopeless. A 2018 study found that transgender youth experience mental health diagnoses at higher rates than their peers. They are also more likely to report abuse.
Most studies suggest that LGBTQ youth experience higher rates of anxiety and depression. A 2020 Trevor Project survey indicates that the COVID-19 pandemic may have been particularly challenging for the mental health of self-identified queer youth. Respondents report that due to lockdown procedures, many felt more exposure to stigma. In many cases, quarantining with unsupportive family members exacerbated their anxiety. Around a third said they were unable to be themselves at home, while 16% said they felt unsafe at home. About 1 in 4 also said they were unable to access mental health care.
According to the Human Rights Campaign, LGBTQ youth are less likely to have family to whom they can turn for help, which can make it difficult to get treatment for substance abuse. Some may turn to alcohol or drugs to self-medicate or to manage the pain of rejection and bullying.
LGBTQIA+ youth can try to access online support services or find support networks in their local community that may be able to provide identity-affirming care and support.
Read more at MedicalNewsToday.com.