LGBTQ+ youth often face discrimination at school or in their communities. During their critical adolescent years, they feel isolated and misunderstood, lacking the resources they need to maintain their mental health.
With pandemic-related social distancing measures in place across the country, LGBTQ+ youth are at an even greater risk of social isolation and depression. But online resources, including supportive and educational materials, can help youth maintain their mental and emotional health.
The internet makes this easy, and LGBTQ+ youth can access online resources with just a couple of clicks. Having online access to counseling, education and a community helps youth cope with depression and can prevent suicide.
Challenges facing LGBTQ+ youth
LGBTQ+ youth face some unique challenges that impact their mental health. As they begin to understand their identity and come out to family and friends, they may encounter discrimination and bullying at school or within their community.
On average, LGBTQ+ youth have higher rates of depression and suicide than their peers. A behavioral health report on youth.gov noted that suicide is the third leading cause of death among youth and young adults, and up to 33% of LGBTQ+ youth report having attempted suicide. LGBTQ+ high school students are also two to seven times more likely to commit suicide than their hetero-identifying peers.
It’s important to remember that identifying as LGBTQ+ doesn’t cause depression or mental health challenges. The cause is rooted within outside factors: Youth who identify as LGBTQ+ encounter discrimination, family rejection, negative biases, bullying and hostile microaggressions that can lead to suicide ideation, according to the report. When LGBTQ+ youth aren’t accepted for who they are, they have higher rates of stress, anxiety, depression, self-harm behaviors and other disturbances to mental health.
Transgender individuals have higher rates of depression and suicide than the rest of the LGBTQ+ community. Between 30 to 50% of transgender youth report attempting suicide at least once. They encounter even higher rates of discrimination and microaggressions, and more barriers when accessing mental health care.
During adolescence, teenagers go through a critical period of development as they build a strong sense of self, develop intellectual and emotional maturity, and start to understand their sexual orientation and preferences.
LGBTQ+ youth experience additional challenges during their teens. Along with all the pressures of growing into their own identities, they have increased risks of alcohol and drug use, bullying, peer pressure, depression, suicide attempts and high-risk sexual activities. LGBTQ+ youth and young adults may be kicked out of their homes, and LGBTQ+ youth are 120% more likely than non-LGBTQ youth to be homeless during their adolescence.
In addition, many LGBTQ+ youth are confronted with online bullying. Teenagers spend almost two hours per day with media, including watching TV, listening to music, texting and video chatting. It’s a great way to connect with peers, but it comes with added risks.
Cyberbullying has made the internet a dangerous place for LGBTQ+ youth, and approximately 48.7% of LGBTQ+ students are victims of cyberbullying each year. This can be through private text messages or public posts on social media. Cyberbullying leads to high rates of psychological and emotional distress for LGBTQ+ youth, as well as low self-esteem, social isolation, depression and thoughts of suicide.
With all these risks for LGBTQ+ youth, Gianna DiGiovanni, Crisis Services Manager of Continuous Improvement at The Trevor Project, emphasizes the importance of having 24 hour access to resources.
“LGBTQ young people deserve affirming and safe spaces to explore who they are, ask questions and connect. Many LGBTQ young people may have limited access to support at home, at school, in their faith communities and among friends. Reaching out for help takes courage regardless of circumstance, but for some LGBTQ young people doing so may compromise their safety or relationships. No young person should have to struggle with depression or thoughts of suicide alone. That is why we are here to provide non-judgmental, confidential and LGBTQ affirming support 24/7.”
Being able to access help for depression or suicide ideation at any time of day or night is vital for LGBTQ+ youth and for their mental health. Many valuable resources can be found online, and the internet is a helpful tool in finding help. There are many cheap internet service providers who can help youth access mental health services and resources wherever they are.
Online resources for LGBTQ+ youth
Download here some of the most helpful online resources shown below for LGBTQ+ youth, including counseling services, educational resources and online communities.
LGBTQ+ youth may have a hard time accessing in-person counseling, but online counseling provides flexible support. Whether on the phone, in a chat, or via text messaging, online counseling is convenient and inexpensive. Talking to a mental health professional online can be beneficial for LGBTQ+ teens. Online therapy is comfortable and accessible, and can be very effective in helping LGBTQ+ youth work through their mental health concerns. Many services allow youth to send messages 24 hours a day, and they’re able to get help when they need it.
- Talk Space: This platform features thousands of licensed therapists who will provide guidance and support, and you can contact your therapist using a laptop or smartphone. The conversation will be synced across devices, so you can access help wherever you are. On Talk Space, messages can be sent 24 hours a day, and the therapist will respond one or two times per day.
- Pride Counseling: Focused on providing counseling for the LGBTQ+ community, Pride Counseling will match youth with a licensed therapist. They provide support for identity and mental health issues in a safe space. It’s possible to message a counselor 24 hours a day, as well as schedule counseling sessions.
- Better Help: Better Help has a large network of licensed counselors, and you can reach a counselor through messaging, chat, phone or video. For LTGBQ+ youth seeking online counseling, Better Help has affordable and convenient counseling services.
- Amwell: Providing LGBTQ counseling, Amwell offers face-to-face online therapy either on your computer or using a mobile app. Most sessions last around 45 minutes and must be scheduled in advance.
It’s important for LGBTQ+ youth to understand that they’re not alone. Educational resources can provide more information on discrimination and bullying, how to effectively deal with this harassment, and where to find help.
- The Trevor Project: Offering a wealth of information to LGBTQ+ youth and allies, the Trevor Support Center answers frequently asked questions on topics such as gender identity and sexual orientation. You’ll also find the coming out handbook and resources for trans youth.
- The Gay Straight Alliance: From training youth leaders, supporting LGBTQ+ youth organizers, and supporting LGBTQ+ youth development, the Gay Straight Alliance Network unites teenagers across the country.
- It Gets Better Project: For inspiring stories from LGBTQ+ youth, the It Gets Better Project provides uplifting video stories created by LGBTQ+ youth around the world.
A sense of community
Connecting with a community helps LGBTQ+ young adults feel a sense of belonging. Communities provide additional resources, encourage youth to share their stories, and have platforms where youth make friends with people who can understand their journey.
- Trevor Space: This international community is the world’s largest social networking site for LGBTQ+ youth. On Trevor Space you can create a custom profile, join a discussion forum and connect with people who are going through similar experiences.
- Gender Spectrum: This is an inclusive space for all LGBTQ+ youth. From resources and online consulting to online groups for teens and family members, they provide a community rooted in understanding and inclusion.
- Empty Closets: This online community offers a forum where you can join a chat, start a discussion, and find additional resources. Empty Closets will provide support to youth as they explore their sexual orientation.
- AVEN: The AVEN community promotes thoughtful and honest conversations about asexuality, and welcomes members who identity as sexual or asexual. AVEN allows you to connect with other youth through forums.
Original post can be found here at ISP.com