LGBTQ youth are more likely than non-LGBTQ youth to have experienced universal risk factors for disrupting youth mental health
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A parent and child holding a rainbow pride flag / Reference image / Unsplash
Latin American Post Staff
With Mental Health America information
The LGBTQ+ community faces challenges in discrimination and adverse effects that increase their risk of experiencing stress, shame, and fear that can lead to mental health conditions. For example, LGBTQ youth are more likely than non-LGBTQ youth to have experienced universal risk factors for disrupting youth mental health, including conflict with parents and substance use.
Mental Health America (MHA) recently released a report that highlights a growing need to address the mental health concerns of those who identify as LGBTQ+.
“The MHA understands that mental health issues may need to be addressed with a unique lens when working with individuals and families with diverse values, beliefs, and sexual orientations,” said Paul Gionfriddo, president and CEO, MHA. “It’s vitally important to continue to collect this data so we can better understand the needs of the LGBTQ population – and to listen to them when they are asking for help,” he added.
The findings showed that:
- LGBTQ youth are resilient and thrive in the face of adversity, but they are also at particular risk for experiencing stress, shame, fear, discrimination and adverse events that increase their risk of experiencing mental health conditions.
- 54 percent were youth ages 11-17. Eighty-six percent of LGBTQ youth scored positive or moderate to severe for a mental health condition, the highest rate of all age groups of LGBTQ+ individuals.
- Half of LGBTQ participants reported that they were having suicidal ideation or thoughts of harming themselves. That was nearly 20 percent higher than non-LGBTQ participants.
- LGBTQ participants were most likely to take an Eating Disorder screen. They were also more likely to screen at risk for nearly every mental health condition, with the largest differences (LGBTQ scoring much higher) in Psychosis, Depression, and Bipolar.
- Participants who identified as transgender were most likely to screen positive or moderate to severe for a mental health condition (89 percent), and young transgender participants ages 11-17 were most at risk.
One of the report’s collaborators, Dr. Stephen Russell, commented that “the findings show that LGBTQ people are concerned about their mental health: they are more likely to seek out mental health screening online. Yet they are less likely to take action based on the results. This new report highlights the urgent need to create mental health services that move beyond anonymous screening for populations in need.”
The report highlights that disparities in poor mental health persist among LGBTQ+ youth despite societal and legal changes to improve conditions for the LGBTQ+ population. Given that this population is at greater risk of mental health conditions, it is important that appropriate mental health services and treatments be made available as soon as possible, and more importantly, in spaces that are most likely to intersect with youth.
Unfortunately, LGBTQ participants were also most likely to report that they did not want to take any action after screening and were less likely to indicate that they wanted to find treatment than their non-LGBTQ counterparts. The findings indicate a need for better and more alternatives to traditional clinical treatment for the LGBTQ community. MHA will continue to work with LGBTQ+ partners to ensure that everyone who wants it can receive necessary, appropriate, and timely mental health support.