- A recent survey of LGBTQ+ teens found that these individuals suffer with significant levels of depression; additionally, they often feel rejected and unsupported.
- To be more specific, researchers found that the majority of LGBTQ+ teens have trouble sleeping, feel worthless, and report feeling depressed in the last week.
- These findings demonstrate the need for helping LGBTQ+ teens manage depression and ultimately providing them with greater support.
- If you observe any depression symptoms in your LGBTQ+ teen, express your concern and help them get the help that they need.
- Additionally, if there is an LGBTQ+ teen in your home, welcome conversation about LGBTQ+ issues and offer unwavering support.
- Schools can help to better support LGBTQ+ teens too, by standing up against discrimination and offering student groups/clubs for LGBTQ+.
A survey conducted by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation and UConn shows that LGBTQ+ teens are suffering with significant levels of depression. Additionally, they often experience rejection and don’t feel supported, which sheds a light on the need for greater support among this group.
Survey Yields Troubling Findings
Over 12,000 teens ages 13 to 17 and from all across the country completed the online 2017 LGBTQ Teen Survey. The results revealed that teens in the LGBTQ+ community are struggling. Researchers observed the following:
- 95% of LGBTQ teens report difficulty sleeping.
- 77% of LGBTQ teens report feeling depressed the past week (on average).
- Over 70% report feeling of worthlessness and hopelessness in the past week.
- LGBTQ teens of color, as well as transgender teens, report the highest levels of rejection.
- 50% of transgender teens never use school restrooms because they don’t have access to those that align with their gender identity.
- Only 26% of teens say they always feel safe in school classrooms.
- Only 5% say all of their teachers and school staff are supportive of the LGBTQ community.
- 67% report that their family members make negative comments about the LGBTQ community.
These findings reveal the challenges among LGBTQ+ youth, specifically high levels of depression and a lack of support. It also demonstrates the need to protect and provide more support for LGBTQ+ teens.
Helping LGBTQ+ Teens Manage Depression
Adolescence is often marked with the occasional mood swings, risky or concerning behavior, and overall changes in attitude or personality. That said, it’s important to know when your teen is experiencing something more serious, like depression. As we discussed above, depression is high among LGBTQ+ teens. Make yourself aware of the symptoms so that you can understand when the LGBTQ+ teens in your life might be feeling depressed:
- Feelings of sadness or hopelessness
- Irritability or anger
- Withdrawal from loved ones
- Loss of interest in day to day activities
- Poor performance at school
- Changes in eating and sleeping habits
- Fatigue or loss of energy
- Difficulty concentrating
If you observe any of these symptoms, express your concern in a non-judgmental way. Ask them how they’ve been feeling and let them know that you’re there to help. Then, provide them with the support that they identify they need. This might mean spending more time with the teen, talking to them about the LGBTQ+ challenges they face, or helping them find a counselor.
Providing LGBTQ+ Teens with the Proper Support
It’s important that we provide teens with proper support, so as to help them maintain or achieve their mental health and wellbeing. Steps can be taken at school and at home to supplement this mission. According to the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), school climate and attitudes toward LGBTQ+ youth have improved in recent years, but resources are still lacking. The following can improve school for these teens:
- Enforcing strong and clear policies against discrimination
- Building support groups and student clubs for LGBTQ+
- Teaching and welcoming conversations about LGBTQ+ topics
At home, parents and other family members can help by welcoming conversations about any problems the LGBTQ+ teen might be experiencing. They should also watch for signs of bullying and monitor any significant changes in the teen’s behavior or mental health. Here are a few guidelines:
- Talk openly
- Listen well
- Be supportive
- Stay involved
Positive Findings: Pride and Involvement
On a positive note, the survey results weren’t all bad. They also revealed that many LGBTQ+ teens are prideful and have access to an LGBTQ+ group. To be more specific:
- 91% of LGBTQ+ teens feel pride in being an LGBTQ+ individual, and 93% are proud to be a part of the community.
- 60% of LGBTQ+ students have access to a LGBTQ+ student club, which is proven to positively impact LGBTQ+ youth.
While we’re certainly making progress toward greater inclusion of and support for the LGBTQ+ community, it’s so important that we all continue to do our part in eliminating discrimination and unfair treatment of LGBTQ+ individuals.