August 20, 2020

More than half of LGBTQ youth report severe mental health struggles, survey finds

The Trevor Project's second annual survey of LGBTQ youth also found that many young people are unable to access care.

Photo by Liam McGarry/Unsplash

Amid a global pandemic, many people have reported struggling with their mental health. But these struggles are nothing new for young LGBTQ people.

A recent mental health survey from the Trevor Project discovered that 40 percent of young LGBTQ people have considered attempting suicide in the past 12 months. The Trevor Project conducted the national survey between December 2019 and March 2020, and gathered information from more than 40,000 young people, ages 13-24, from across the country.

Researchers also found that 48 percent of respondents had reported engaging in self-harm activities in the past 12 months, and that number was higher for young people who identified as transgender or nonbinary, with 60 percent of respondents reporting self-harm. These mental struggles include both anxiety and depression, with 68 percent reporting symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder and 55 percent say they’re experiencing symptoms of major depressive disorder.

How do these numbers compare to the general population? An August report from The Centers for Disease Control found that in June 2020, 40 percent of U.S. adults say they’re struggling with their mental health, with 11 percent reporting that they have recently considered suicide.

Many young LGBTQ aren’t able to address their mental health needs, either. The Trevor Project’s survey found that 46 percent of respondents said that in the past year they wanted to access mental health care but were unable to receive it. That number was higher for Black, Latinx, and Asian American LGTBQ youth, with about 60 percent of each of those groups reporting an inability to receive mental health care.

Over half of respondents listed cost as a barrier to care, while a third cited concerns about obtaining parental permission to receive care. Other concerns included a lack of transportation, previous negative experiences, and a fear of being outed.

“Given the disproportionately higher rates of mental health challenges and suicide attempts reported by LGBTQ youth, any barriers to mental health care can have enormous consequences,” Dr. Amy E. Green, Director of Research for The Trevor Project said in a statement. “We must act now to break down these barriers to save lives.”

In their research, the Trevor Project also found additional struggles facing LGBTQ youth. Nearly 30 percent of respondents have experienced homelessness, been kicked out of their homes or ran away. Additionally, about one third of respondents said they had been physically threatened or harmed in the past due to their LGBTQ identity.

Thankfully, there are resources for people looking to help young people. The Allstate Foundation has gathered resources for parents to help their kids’ social-emotional well being. Teach for America has resources for teachers to help their students with trauma related to the COVID-19 pandemic, and specific resources for LGBTQ youth.

If you are a young LGBTQ person, the Trevor Project has a 24/7 crisis intervention hotline at 1-866-488-7386, as well as a confidential text messaging service and online instant messaging service that can connect you with a counselor.

Caitlin Fairchild

Caitlin Fairchild is the Deputy Editor of The Renewal Project.
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