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LGBTQ+ Health Equity: Youth


Dr. Jorge R. Petit, MD


Tuesday, June 13, 2023

LGBTQ+ youth face unique mental health challenges due to societal stigma, discrimination, and lack of acceptance. Statistics reveal alarming rates of mental health issues among this population. LGBTQ+ youth are significantly more likely to experience depression, anxiety, self-harm, and suicidal ideation compared to their heterosexual and cisgender peers. In a recent study in JAMA [1], LGBTQ+ youth have 3 times higher prevalence of depression and anxiety and slightly more than 1/2 of LGBTQ+ youth reported wanting mental health care but not receiving any, partly due to adverse experiences with clinicians and perceptions that clinicians do not understand sexual or gender identity–related mental health needs. In the JAMA study, less than 1/3 of surveyed facilities offered LGBTQ-specific services in 2020 for children or youth.  Most tragically, suicide rates among LGBTQ+ youth are disproportionately high, with some estimates suggesting that they are up to four times more likely to attempt suicide. These alarming statistics highlight the urgent need for addressing mental health issues among LGBTQ+ youth.

The mental health issues faced by LGBTQ+ youth are often rooted in social factors such as bullying, rejection, and isolation. Many LGBTQ +youth experience bullying at school or face rejection from their families, which can have a profound impact on their well-being. Internalized homophobia or transphobia can also contribute to mental health struggles as individuals may struggle to accept their own identities. Additionally, lack of access to affirming healthcare, including gender-affirming care, can exacerbate mental health challenges for transgender and gender nonconforming youth. It is crucial to address these issues and create supportive environments that promote the mental well-being of LGBTQ youth.

Fortunately, there are resources available to support LGBTQ youth in their mental health journey. Organizations such as The Trevor Project, GLAAD, and LGBTQ+ centers provide valuable resources, hotlines, and online support communities specifically tailored to the needs of LGBTQ youth. These resources offer crisis intervention, counseling, and support to help LGBTQ youth navigate their mental health challenges. Additionally, mental health professionals who specialize in LGBTQ-affirming care play a crucial role in providing therapy and support to address the unique experiences and needs of LGBTQ youth. By utilizing these resources and building inclusive and accepting communities, we can work towards improving the mental health outcomes for LGBTQ youth.

Here is a partial list of specific resources for LGBTQ+ youth and mental health care:

  1. The Trevor Project: A leading organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services for LGBTQ youth. They offer a 24/7 helpline, online chat, and text support. Website:

  2. It Gets Better Project: A nonprofit organization that aims to uplift and support LGBTQ youth. They offer resources, videos, and an online community. Website:

  3. GLAAD: An LGBTQ media advocacy organization that provides resources on mental health, including a "Where to Turn" guide with information on support and counseling. Website:

  4. National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI): Provides resources and support for individuals with mental health conditions, including LGBTQ-specific information and support groups. Website:

  5. LGBT National Help Center: Offers confidential phone and online chat support, including specific services for youth, such as the LGBT National Youth Talkline. Website:

  6. Pride Counseling: An online platform that connects LGBTQ individuals with licensed therapists who specialize in LGBTQ-affirming care. Website:

  7. Trans Lifeline: A helpline dedicated to supporting transgender individuals. They provide emotional support, resources, and a microgrants program. Website:

Check out your local LGBTQ+ community centers; many offer mental health services, counseling, support groups, and workshops tailored to the needs of LGBTQ +youth. 

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