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Coming of age is hard under practically all circumstances; coming of age and identifying as LGBTQ+ can be even more difficult, especially if the very people who are supposed to protect and love you judge you and treat you differently because of your orientation. The discrimination, abuse, and marginalization that LGBTQ+ young adults face in childhood can carry over well into adulthood in multiple areas of life, including the workplace, the family, the legislative chamber, and even the doctor’s office. Internal and external stressors can lead to serious mental health issues, including suicidal ideations and attempts.
2020 survey data from the non-profit LGBTQ+ advocacy group The Trevor Project indicates:
If you or your loved one is a member of the LGBTQ+ community and experiencing mental health issues due to your orientation or gender identity, it can feel like you’re all alone, but there are many venues and resources to which you can turn for help, support and allyship.
The LGBTQ+ community houses a number of different groups under its umbrella, and each one faces their own unique set of obstacles and adverse experiences that can lead to acute and long-term mental health issues:
In the case of the gay and lesbian population:
In the specific case of the transgender population:
Data from the American Psychological Association (APA) indicates that parents’ rejection of a child’s sexual orientation fuels mental health problems. Although there have been great strides made toward inclusivity in the workplace, gay, lesbian, and bisexual employees still face a variety of mental health challenges connected to their daily and long-term workplace experiences. The reality is that there are few, if any, areas of life in which members of the LGBTQ+ can avail themselves of the same protections and comforts as straight, cisgender people.
Health, safety, and quality of life for LGBTQ+ young adults can be greatly improved and enriched by the people with whom they interact every day; this includes friends, colleagues, family, and society writ large. While this group is not a monolith, and each member faces their own unique set of struggles and circumstances that will require personal support and attention, they often share common baseline issues of discrimination, marginalization, and abuse that those around them are more empowered than they may realize to correct. Here are some effective ways to be an ally to an LGBTQ+ friend or loved one:
Most of all, remember that all people, regardless of gender identity and sexual orientation, should be treated with dignity and respect. LGBTQ+ adults often say that their mental health issues and trauma may have been mitigated or less severe if they had just one person to whom they could turn when they were growing up.
As much as LGBTQ+ young adults continue to face barriers to positive mental health and quality of life, there are more resources than ever to help you or your loved one in your struggle. Below is a list of supportive mental health resources you can turn to if you need help:
Other resources include the Trevor Project, National Queer and Trans Therapists of Color Network, Mental Health Fund for Queer and Trans People of Color, and the Human Rights Council.
You don’t have to struggle with mental health issues on your own if you’re a member of the LGBTQ+ community. You are loved, you are valued, and you deserve to be heard and protected. Get the help and support you need now.