The teenage years are a time of identity construction. For most young people, this involves serious consideration of one’s gender identity and sexuality. Coming out as LGBT can be a scary process for adolescents, but it can also provide freedom and instill confidence. As a parent, having resources for your LGBT youth can help both you and your teen navigate this journey with the facts and support you need.
LGBT Youth Mental Health Risk Factors
Identifying as LGBT is not a mental illness, and it doesn’t indicate an underlying mental health issue. However, youth who are a part of this community are at a greater risk of developing these disorders. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 22% of LGBT youth experienced violence (physical or sexual) in an intimate relationship. 39.5% of those surveyed were victims of bullying, either in person or online. LGBT youth are more likely to be victims of violence and other negative experiences than their peers, increasing their risk of mental illness.
- Acceptance: Almost half (47%) of LGBT youth report not feeling accepted in their own communities. Only 16% of non-LGBT youth reported a lack of acceptance. When teens don’t feel like they belong in the community they live in, this can result in depression, suicidal thoughts, and anxiety. Often, these teens worry that their situation won’t change until they can leave their current environment. Only 21% of LGBT teens have a sense of safety and security within their community.
- Depression and Suicide: Because of fear and perceived isolation, LGBT youth are four times more likely to attempt suicide than their peers. 46% of these adolescents have seriously considered suicide and 66% report persistent sadness or hopelessness.
- Substance Use: LGBT youth are more likely to turn to substance use to cope with the negative interactions and experiences they’ve had. 33% report current alcohol use, and 12% misuse prescription opioids. Opioid use is nearly double in this population than in their cisgender, heterosexual counterparts.
Inclusive Mental Health Support
Because of the risk of mental health conditions and substance use disorders in this community, it’s now more important than ever to have fully inclusive mental health resources. Inclusivity goes beyond acceptance – it is a concentrated effort to understand and incorporate LGBT-focused support. An inclusive environment is strengths-based and promotes individuality and growth. The San Diego area has multiple inclusive health care resources for LGBT youth and their parents.
- Family Health Care Centers of San Diego (FHCSD) offers LGBT health services in an inclusive and affirming environment. FHCSD’s gender-affirming treatment and HIV prevention and care can provide your teen healthcare without fear of judgment.
- The San Diego County government also provides a list of resources for parents and LGBT youth that includes support groups, sexual health resources, and relationship support.
- The Trevor Project is a national organization that provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention, specifically to LGBT youth.
Support for LGBT Youth and Their Parents
As a parent of an LGBT teen, we know you want the best for your child. With an increased risk of mental health issues, your child needs inclusive care that fully embraces who they are. At The Forum, we work with adolescents to develop healthy coping skills for the challenges they face. Our goal is never to change who your child is. Rather, we work to increase their confidence by emphasizing their strengths.
We include parents throughout the treatment process because we know the importance of parental support, especially for LGBT youth. Our team of case managers will ensure you have access to all the in-house and community resources you need, so you can rest assured that help is just a click or call away. If your teenager is struggling with mental health issues and is in need of an LGBT-friendly environment, The Forum offers comprehensive support to help them heal. Contact our admissions team today to learn more about our strengths-based treatment model.
Johns M.M., Lowry R., et al. Trends in Violence Victimization and Suicide Risk by Sexual Identity Among High School Students — Youth Risk Behavior Survey, United States, 2015–2019. MMWR Suppl 2020;69: 19-27.
Jones C.M., Clayton H.B., et al. Prescription Opioid Misuse and Use of Alcohol and Other Substances Among High School Students — Youth Risk Behavior Survey, United States, 2019. MMWR Suppl 2020;69: 38-46.