When you’re going through trying times, the solace you find in your closest friends and family can provide you the strength to carry on. Unfortunately, the struggle for acceptance for LGBTQ+ youth doesn’t just end with society at large; it’s an uphill battle some of them face in their homes every single day.
From the absence of an initial positive reaction to a lack of explicit support, LGBTQ+ youth often report a lack of family support, which makes their battles doubly difficult.
Familial support can bridge the gap between LGBTQ+ youth and healthy mental health. A Human Rights Campaign survey found that about 28 percent of LGBTQ+ youth reported experiencing symptoms of depression while only 12 percent of non-LGBTQ+ youth did. These at-risk individuals experience a double stigma: not only are they isolated because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, they’re also ostracized for their mental health.
Mental Health & LGBTQ+ Youth
LGBTQ+ youth experience a host of experiences that can take a toll on their mental health and wellbeing. Among these life-altering traumas are bullying, rejection, societal stigma, physical and sexual abuse, and harassment.
Without access to the right kind of help, LGBTQ+ youth increasingly battle depression, anxiety, attention-deficit disorders, post-traumatic stress disorders, suicidal ideation, and substance abuse. As a mental health professional, you need to focus on cultivating an environment that provides sexual minority youth the safe space they need to flourish and grow.
When negative social attitudes are internalized, they manifest in unhealthy coping mechanisms and weak interpersonal relationships. That’s why it’s imperative to work with the youth as well as their parents, guardians, and family members.
It has been reported that when LGBTQ+ youth experience healthy, positive parent-adolescent relationships, their physical and mental health flourish. Family acceptance can protect at-risk youth from a lot of the problems they may otherwise face.
Parents and guardians can be allies and support systems for LGBTQ+ youth by celebrating and accepting their identity, ensuring people respect their child, advocating for their rights, affirming their feelings and experiences, and allowing them to be themselves.
Just as family support is an important component of growth and wellness for people struggling with their mental health, it’s imperative in cases of LGBTQ+ youth. Time and again, research has proven that familial acceptance for these adolescents can protect against a range of negative experiences in early adulthood.
As a mental health counselor, it’s imperative that you communicate the need for acceptance and love to parents of LGBTQ+ youth. For parents struggling with their child’s gender identity or sexual orientation, narrative therapy may be applied.
This form of counseling separates the person from their problems, allowing the parents to process these changes in their lives in the best way possible. By working on how they can improve their family dynamics and what their child’s sexual orientation or gender identity means for them, parents can work on practical strategies for improvement.
For any mental health counselors or psychologists looking to expand their knowledge, E Care Behavioral Health Institute’s CEU’s for Social Workers offer a wealth of knowledge. Our informative recorded webinars and interactive live webinars allow you to build your knowledge and finesse your skills.
As the times change, learn the most effective techniques to ensure a safe, accepting environment for everyone through our webinar CEUs. Register for our live webinar on Counseling the Parents of LGBTQ+ individuals using Narrative Therapy Techniques today.