Although there have been a number of advances toward acceptance of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning individuals, it is still not easy for LGBTQ youth. In addition to struggling with their own identity, many young people face discrimination and bullying. In its most recent surveyof LGBTQ youth, the Trevor Project found that 40% of respondents said they have seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year. The number is even higher for transgender and nonbinary youth. This is a staggering number and points to a mental health crisis that must be addressed.
Hurdles to Overcome
Even with advancements in legislation, policy, and culture, the LGBTQ community still has hurdles to overcome. LGBTQ youth still face discrimination and rejection from their families and the community at large. Add to that the hateful rhetoric that has become increasingly pervasive in recent years, and there is a recipe for disaster. Transgender and nonbinary (people who do not identify as male or female) youth face even greater discrimination and misunderstanding. As a result, LGBTQ youth are more than four times more likely to attempt suicide than their peers.
Social media seems to be a mixed bag when it comes to the feelings of rejection for LGBTQ youth. They have become more exposed to hateful rhetoric and rejecting comments. However, many LGBTQ young people feel alone, and being able to make a helpful connection through social media can go a long way toward making someone feel accepted.
Addressing the Issue
The best way to address the issue of mental health and LGBTQ youth is to provide adequate treatment for these young people. Mental health professionals who specialize in LGBTQ issues are necessary to provide a safe place where young people can feel free to express themselves and their feelings. Providing specialized training to mental health professionals can make this a reality. In addition, LGBTQ community centers can help provide affirming messages of acceptance to young people, which can help change their outlook.
If you or someone you know is feeling helpless or suicidal, the Trevor Project has a confidential suicide hotline. The Trevor Lifeline is available 24/7 at 1-866-488-7836. Online counseling is also available at thetrevorproject.org/get-help-now/.
If you or a loved one has a mental disability and has been arrested or convicted of a crime, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side. Elizabeth Kelley specializes in representing individuals with mental disabilities. To schedule a consultation call (509) 991-7058.