700 Children's® – A Blog by Pediatric Experts

Is LGBTQ Community at Higher Risk for Mental Health Concerns?

Jun 20, 2019
Hand wearing a rainbow-colored wristband.

One in five children is living with a mental illness, and 50 percent of all lifetime mental illnesses start by the age of 14. Studies show that LGBTQ youth may experience more negative mental health outcomes than their peers.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s 2015 Youth Risk Behavior Survey, 60 percent of LGBTQ youth reported decreased participation in activities of interest and LGBTQ youth are four times more likely to attempt suicide.

An estimated 20 percent to 30 percent of LGBTQ people abuse substances, compared to about 9 percent of the general population. Additionally, LGBTQ youth are more likely to experience bullying, physical violence and rejection. For example, 34 percent reported being bullied on school property; 28 percent were bullied electronically; and 18 percent reported experiencing physical dating violence.  

So How Can You Help?

A supportive family, community and school system make the biggest difference on LGBTQ youth and their mental health.

  • An overwhelming majority of LGBTQ youth who are suicidal report feeling misunderstood by their parents.
  • Studies show it is the support of a caregiver that provides the foundation for a child’s health and wellbeing. This can lead to a decrease in mental health symptoms for LGBTQ youth.
  • Transgender children whose families affirm their gender identity are as psychologically healthy as their non-transgender peers.
  • Family acceptance and support are strong predictors of healthy self-esteem.
  • Have open and honest conversations, and stay involved. Simply asking someone how their day was shows someone you care.

For more information on Nationwide Children’s Hospital’s THRIVE Program, click here. Other LGBTQ resources include:

  • The Trevor Project. Provides a national, 24-hour confidential suicide hotline for LGBTQ youth at (866) 488-7386. The Trevor Project also provides an online chat and confidential text messaging – text “Trevor” to (202) 304-1200.
  • LGBT National Help Center. Provides free, confidential telephone and email counseling, information and local resources. Telephone volunteers are in their teens and early 20s and speak with teens about coming-out issues, relationship concerns, parent issues, school problems, STDs and other issues.
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Featured Expert

Lourdes Hill
Lourdes Hill, LPCC-S
Behavioral Health

Lourdes Hill, LPCC-S is an outpatient mental health therapist in Behavioral Health with the THRIVE gender and sex development program at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. Lourdes provides individual and family therapy interventions to children and youth with gender related concerns.

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700 Children’s® features the most current pediatric health care information and research from our pediatric experts – physicians and specialists who have seen it all. Many of them are parents and bring a special understanding to what our patients and families experience. If you have a child – or care for a child – 700 Children’s was created especially for you.