June is LGBT awareness month, and we wanted to take the time to highlight the mental health needs of our LGBT community. When referencing LGBT we are referring to a community consisting of individuals identifying as “lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender.” According to the US Institute of Medicine this also refers to a broad coalition of groups that are diverse with respect to gender, sexual orientation, race/ethnicity, and socioeconomic status. It is important as a society to understand the potential mental health struggles of our LGBT community members as awareness is the first step to positive change.
Here are some quick facts about youth members of our LGBT community:
- Transgender youth are much more likely than their non-transgender peers to experience depression – nearly 4x the risk (Reisner 2015 study)
- LGBTQ teens experience more depression symptoms than their hetero peers (Marshal 2011)
- In a 2016 – 2017 survey from Human Rights Campaign (HRC), 28% of LGBTQ youth (including 40% of transgender youth) said they felt depressed most or all of the time during the last 30 days. Compare that to only 12% of non-LGBTQ youth (HRC Foundation 2017)
- 60% of LGBQ youth reported being so sad or hopeless they stopped doing some of their usual activities (Kann 2016)
- LGBQ youth are more than TWICE as likely to feel suicidal and over 4x as likely to attempt suicide compared to hetero youth (Kann 2016). According to one study, 1/3 or transgender youth have seriously considered suicide and 1 in 5 has made an attempt (Reisner 2015)
- A 2014 study found that LGBQ people who live in communities with more stigmatizing attitudes about their sexual orientation die an average of 12 years earlier than LGBQ people in least-prejudiced communities (Hatzenbuehler 2014)
Although these may be some hard facts to digest, there are several protective factors to be aware of that can increase the possibility of positive outcomes. Some of these include:
- Ensure strong family bonds and increased support from caring adults. It has been documented that youth with affirming families report higher levels of self-esteem.
- Environmental support such as (positive school climate – anti-bullying policies) neutral office climates with a concentration on making a safe place for all.
- Social support- having the opportunity to connect with others who value diverse beliefs and can exercise empathy and compassion for the experience of another.
- Coping strategies- can be a wide range of tools to aid in coping with anxieties, depression and self-doubt should they arise. (mindfulness, meditation, deep breathing). Professional counseling support in gaining some of these tools can be a large asset.
ANYONE can support another in their use of coping strategies. Adults who work with members of the LGBT community – counselors, teachers, health professionals – can make it clear that their office is a safe space for youth.
One of Georgia HOPE’s core values is “Acting for the whole.” We honor individuals of all diversities. We want to emphasize the month of June for our friends who are part of the LGBT community.
Some further mental health resources to check out:
- NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, is the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness. NAMI encourages LGBTQ people to take care of their mental health and offers help with locating mental health care providers, and tips on how to talk to a therapist.
- Mental Health America works locally and nationally to raise awareness about mental health and ensures that those at-risk for mental illnesses and related disorders receive proper, timely and effective treatment. MHA offers unique educational materials created specifically for the LGBTQ audience.
- The Trevor Project is a multimedia support network for LGBTQ youth providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention.
- The Association of LGBTQ Psychiatrists works within the APA to influence policies relevant to the lesbian and gay community, collaborates with other organizations of gay and lesbian physicians and mental health professionals, and provides referral services for lesbian and gay patients. They offer a list of helpful links to individual and community resources.
- The Human Rights Campaign is the largest national lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer civil rights organization. They have called for “open, honest discussions about mental health with young people, a key step to reducing stigma and empowering them to seek help and support when needed.”
Want to Talk?
If you’re struggling with any mental health issues, you don’t have to go through this alone. Georgia HOPE has virtual, online programs available for everyone, so that you can get the support that you need. Please contact us here.
We are currently providing Mental Health and Substance Use services throughout the state of Georgia via TeleMental Health. We offer self-pay options as well as insurance coverage.
If you, or someone you know, are interested in services, you can submit a referral online to us to start the first steps or call us at 706-279-0405.If you’re interested in learning more about our services, please contact us here.