'It's alarming': More than half of LGBTQ young people unable to get mental health care, study finds

DeJuan Hoggard Image
Tuesday, May 2, 2023
LGBTQ young people struggle to get mental health care: Study
"They're being told by their leaders that they don't matter, that they don't have value, that they are villains."

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- As North Carolina legislators debate Senate Bills 636 and 579, young people in the LGBTQ community reported in a new survey that their mental health is being harmed.

Senate Bill 636 would prohibit transgender girls from joining female sports teams in middle and high school. Senate Bill 579, referred to by supporters as "Prevent Harm to Children," would increase the punishment for disseminating obscene materials when a minor is present.

"They're being told by their leaders that they don't matter, that they don't have value, that they are villains," said Candis Cox with the LGBTQ Center of Durham.

The Trevor Project just released results of a nationwide survey that involved more than 28,000 LGBTQ young people between the ages of 13-24.

The results found

  • 41% of LGBTQ young people seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year
  • 56% of LGBTQ young people who wanted mental health care were not able to get it
  • A majority of those surveyed reported being bullied or harassed at school by people who thought they were LGBTQ
  • Nearly 1 in 3 said their mental health was poor most of the time or all the time due to anti-LGBTQ legislation and policies
  • Nearly 2 in 3 said hearing of the potential of new laws and the prohibition of discussion of LGBTQ issues in the classroom made their mental health a lot worse

"41% is an alarmingly high rate. For anyone I mean, 1% is a terrible thing, but 41% LGBTQIA+ people to be considering suicide is terrifying," said Cox. "Because that means that nearly half of LGBTQIA+ people surveyed don't feel as though they actually have a right and an ability to live and to exist and to be in this country and in this world."

It's worth noting both Senate bills have yet to become law. But the impact and the Trevor Project results still affect the community.

"I think the statistics are proving that," added Cox. "And the reason that's alarming is it begs the question of what exactly are we looking at when we're talking about our youth and young people and passing legislation to protect citizens."

For the mental health aspect, therapist Ashley Gilmore suggests LGBTQ young people look into what their school campuses may offer.

"Going into spaces, like in their academic settings is very helpful," said Gilmore. "In the community there are spaces that offer support around identification issues or identity issues (and) affirmations."

"If coming out to your immediate network right now is not safe, then that's OK. That's not a sign of things to come," Cox reassured. "That just means that right now you are in self-preservation and that is paramount. I always try to stress that it's never ever, ever as helpless as people can end up."

The Trevor Project offers a 24/7 hotline staffed with LGBTQ advocates trained to deal with community-specific issues. The number is 866-488-7386.

If you are struggling with thoughts of suicide or worried about a friend or loved one, call the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline at 988 for free, confidential emotional support 24 hours a day, seven days a week