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Identifying Teen Mental Health Crisis in The LGBT+ Community

Discover the harrowing statistics behind teenage mental health challenges and the LGBTQ+ community's struggles. Learn about the prevalence of anxiety, depression, and suicide, alongside practical advice to safeguard mental well-being. Explore ways to find support and advocate for inclusive healthcare services.

Image by Midjourney
Image by Midjourney

Mental Health Among LGBT+ Teenagers

One in seven people aged 10 to 19 worldwide suffer from a mental illness, making up 13% of the age group's overall disease burden.

Adolescent illness and disability are primarily caused by behavioural disorders, anxiety, and depression.

Suicide is the fourth most prevalent cause of death among individuals aged 15 to 29.

Failing to address mental health issues in adolescents has long-term effects on an adult's physical and mental well-being, as well as fewer opportunities for an adult to lead a fulfilling life.

Ages 10–19 make up one in six of the population. The teenage years are special and formative. Teen mental health issues may be triggered due to physical, emotional, and social changes, as well as exposure to violence, abuse, or poverty.

For teenagers to be healthy and happy throughout adolescence and adulthood, it is essential to shield them from hardship, support socio-emotional learning and psychological well-being, and guarantee that they have access to mental health services.

  • Emotional disorders:

Teenagers are prone to emotional problems. In this age group, anxiety disorders—which can involve panic attacks or excessive worry—are more common in older adolescents than in younger ones. 3.6% of children aged 10 to 14 and 4.6% of those aged 15 to 19 are thought to suffer from an anxiety disorder.

According to estimates, 2.8% of teenagers aged 15 to 19 and 1.1% of adolescents aged 10 to 14 experience depression. Some symptoms of anxiety and depression are similar, such as abrupt and drastic mood swings.

  • Behavioural disorders:

Adolescents under the age of twenty have a higher prevalence of behavioural disorders than older adolescents. 3.1% of children aged 10 to 14 and 2.4% of children aged 15 to 19 have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), which is characterized by trouble focusing, excessive activity, and acting without thinking through the consequences (1). Conduct disorder, which manifests as symptoms of harmful or difficult behaviour, affects 2.4% of teenagers aged 15 to 19 and 3.6% of those aged 10 to 14 (1). Adolescents with behavioural disorders may struggle in school, and criminal behaviour may arise from these disorders.

  • Suicide:

The fourth most common cause of death for older adolescents (ages 15 to 19) is suicide. The use of alcohol harmfully, maltreatment as a child, the stigma associated with seeking help, obstacles to receiving care, and the availability of suicide tools are just a few of the many risk factors for suicide. Like all media, digital media can have a big impact on strengthening or weakening efforts to prevent suicide.


LGBT+ and Teen Mental Health Crisis

Image by Freepik
Image by Freepik

The majority of LGBTQ+ individuals report that because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, they or an LGBTQ+ friend or family member have faced violence (51%), been threatened or subjected to non-sexual harassment (57%), or been sexually harassed (51%). 49% of LGBTQ+ individuals think they have fewer work options, and 50% think their pay is lower than that of non-LGBTQ+ individuals. 

Due to their gender identity or sexual orientation, 38% of transgender people report having encountered slurs, and 28% report having heard hurtful or insensitive remarks. 

Teens who identify as LGBTQ+ are six times more likely than non-LGBTQ+ to experience depressive symptoms.  Compared to heterosexual youth, LGBTQ+ youth experience suicidal thoughts and attempts at suicide at rates that are more than twice as high. 

In contrast to the 4% of US adults who report having thought about suicide in the past year, 48% of transgender adults report having done so. 

In an LGBTQ+ survey, over half of the participants said they had experienced situations where medical professionals refused to treat them, used derogatory language, or blamed their illness on the patient's gender identity or sexual orientation. Some people may choose to hide their gender identity or sexual orientation from healthcare professionals out of fear of discrimination, or they may decide not to seek care at all. 

Hospitals must no longer allow discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression to receive accreditation from the Joint Commission, an independent non-profit national organization that accredits and certifies more than 20,000 healthcare organizations and programmes in the United States.

In the realm of healthcare, inclusivity is not just a notion; it's a fundamental principle that guides the very essence of compassionate care. Across Asia and Europe, hospitals are embracing this vital tenet with open arms, recognizing that every individual, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, or expression, deserves to receive care with dignity and respect.

Roughly 27% of transgender people and 8% of LGBTQ+ people, respectively, report not being able to get necessary medical care. 

Stigma, cultural insensitivity, and a conscious and unconscious reluctance to discuss sexuality can all be barriers to effective mental health care. 

Evidence suggests that heterosexual healthcare providers have widespread implicit preferences for heterosexual patients over lesbian and gay patients. 

4 Ways to Protect Your Teen Mental Health as an LGBTQ+ Individual

Image by Freepik
Image by Freepik
  • Interaction:

Your teenager must know they're not alone in facing any obstacles, as should you. When it comes to navigating social settings, handling family dynamics, or just looking for understanding, there are a plethora of LGBTQ+ organizations and groups available online and offline that are willing to accept and support individuals for their true selves. These environments provide a feeling of community, emotional support, and opportunities for activism or volunteer work related to subjects they are enthusiastic about. Instruct your adolescent to investigate nearby LGBTQ+ facilities and social clubs, as they might discover support and companionship there.

  • Staying fit

Maintaining your physical health is essential to preserving your emotional state, even in the face of difficult situations depends on maintaining physical well-being. When your kid is experiencing stress or melancholy, it might be tempting for them to put off taking care of themselves, but it's crucial that they put their physical and emotional health first. Motivate them to take up healthy habits like eating a well-balanced diet, getting enough sleep, and working out regularly. Regular sleep habits lower the chance of depression while also improving mood and focus. Likewise, consistent physical activity and a healthy diet may reduce stress and increase endorphin synthesis, which improves mood and energy levels all around.

  • Setting boundaries

Recognizing that your child has the freedom to create limits is powerful for them in a world where anger and negativity may be common. They don't have to put up with rude conduct or get into energy-draining arguments. Urge them to politely and assertively set limits, whether that involves moving away from unpleasant circumstances or ending difficult talks. Remind them that it's okay to take breaks when necessary, whether it's going for a stroll, spending some time alone yourself, or stepping away from stressful online interactions.

  • Seek help

It might be difficult to navigate the world as an LGBTQ+ person, but it's crucial to stress that support is accessible. Talk to your teen's primary care physician about their mental health issues first. They may provide direction and put them in touch with LGBTQ+ affirming therapists, neighbourhood support groups, and other mental health specialists.

In addition, think about looking into Project C Counselors for more in-depth professional assistance or the Project Friend program to get in touch with individuals who have gone through similar things and can support each other. Your teen may build a solid support system and acquire useful skills for managing their emotional health by using these resources.

Written by Vaagmi Trivedi

Edited by Virginia Helzainka


Platt, L. F., Wolf, J. K., & Scheitle, C. P. (2018). Patterns of mental health care utilization among sexual orientation minority groups. Journal of Homosexuality, 65(2), 135-153

Sabin, J. A., Riskind, R. G., & Nosek, B. A. (2015). Health care providers’ implicit and explicit attitudes toward lesbian women and gay men. American Journal of Public Health 105(9), 1831-1841. doi 10.2105/AJPH.2015.302631

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