Mental Health of LGBTQ+ Youth in These Past Few Years
August 6, 2023
The few past years have been tough for many people in this country concerning the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, recent politics, and mass shooting events. These effects have been especially felt within marginalized communities, such as the LGBTQ+ community. In fact, according to the “National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health 2021,” published by The Trevor Project, “More than 80% of LGBTQ youth stated that COVID-19 made their living situation more stressful - and only 1 in 3 LGBTQ youth found their home to be LGBTQ-affirming” . While LGBTQ+ youths and heterosexual youths face similar challenges, LGBTQ+ youths are often faced with unique challenges dealing with acceptance, the disintegration of identity, prejudice, isolation, and access to healthcare. There is a lot of diversity and intersectionality in the LGBTQ+ community, ranging from race, expressions of gender, religion, sexual orientation, and socioeconomic class. This complexity is important to acknowledge when having a discussion about mental health within this community .
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused many problems and stress for the overall global community. In this global health crisis, many marginalized communities have been affected disproportionately because of the intersectional barriers they face in mental health, social, and cultural areas . However, in this pandemic, LGBTQ+ youth have seen increased stress due to a lack of access to resources, mental and sexual health disparities, and familial and peer rejection . Some LGBTQ+ youth may have needed to quarantine in difficult environments, such as self-isolating and tough family situations where they may have been a victim of abuse because of their sexual and gender minority identities . Suicidal thoughts and attempts are also 3 times higher among LGBTQ+ youths and are highly vulnerable to self-harm . Therefore, young people who identify as LGBTQ+ need mental health services.
The lack of equality in mental health services contributes to disparities in mental health betweenLGBTQ+ and cisgender heterosexual youth . “Recent evidence suggests that although there is a greater mental health burden in this population, LGBTQ+ youth underutilize mental health services, do not access them until crisis point, and often find them unhelpful” . There has been limited research done on why LGBTQ+ youth are hesitant to explore help for their mental health problems. An article by Elizabeth McDermott and Rachael Eastham suggests that “The reluctance to access mental health services is because of homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia, difficulties disclosing sexual and gender identity, and fears of being misunderstood” . Moreover, studies have suggested that LGBTQ+ youth have experienced unhelpful and poor school-based support and mental health services .
COVID-19 has left a global impact these past few years. The marginalized communities, specifically the LGBTQ+ community have felt the impact more than the cisgender heterosexual community. Many LGBTQ+ already face many mental health-related issues, but many are hesitant to reach out for support due to the barriers they face. Improvement in mental health support for this community is needed.
 Iacono, Gio, et al. “Critical Reflections and Reflexivity on Responding to the Needs of LGBTQ+ Youth in a Global Pandemic.” Qualitative Social Work, vol. 20, no. 1-2, 4 Mar. 2021, pp. 479–486., https://doi.org/10.1177/1473325020981080. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/1473325020981080
 McDermott, Elizabeth, et al. “Explaining Effective Mental Health Support for LGBTQ+ Youth: A Meta-Narrative Review.” SSM - Mental Health, vol. 1, Dec. 2021, p. 100004., https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ssmmh.2021.100004. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2666560321000049
 National Alliance on Mental Illness. “LGBTQI.” NAMI, NAMI, 2022, https://www.nami.org/Your-Journey/Identity-and-Cultural-Dimensions/LGBTQI.
 TWO-N. “The Trevor Project National Survey.” The Trevor Project, The Trevor Project, 2021, https://www.thetrevorproject.org/survey-2021/?section=Introduction. https://www.thetrevorproject.org/survey-2021/?section=Introduction
 Williams, A. Jess, et al. “A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Victimisation and Mental Health Prevalence among LGBTQ+ Young People with Experiences of Self-Harm and Suicide.” PLOS ONE, vol. 16, no. 1, 22 Jan. 2021, https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0245268. https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0245268