Mental health struggles are on the rise for teens. More and more youth are dealing with any number of mental health needs. In the LGBTQ community in L.A. and nearby Santa Clarita, teens experience higher incidences of mental illness and substance abuse. Fortunately, parents, caregivers, friends, allies, and health professionals can all work together to help LGBTQ teens with their mental health. Here are some of the best ways to do it.
Connect Them With Like-Minded Community
Being around people who understand your personal struggles and can support you is important for all people. But for many teens in the LGBTQ community, this is especially important. Fortunately, L.A. and the surrounding area have many opportunities for LGBTQ teens to come together. It’s critical to provide these community opportunities because it helps these teens to feel more comfortable with who they are and more confident.
Because mental health issues in the LGBTQ community are so high, it’s especially important for them to have a good community of friends and allies around them. The Human Rights Campaign has opportunities for teens in L.A. and Santa Clarita to connect to the LGBTQ community in the surrounding region.
Find a Therapist Experienced in LGBTQ Issues
While many LGBTQ teens in L.A. and the Santa Clarita Valley deal with mental health issues like anxiety or depression, others might experience OCD, PTSD, and even substance abuse. In fact, rates of substance abuse tend to be higher in LGBTQ teens than in other teens. It’s believed that this is in part due to the rejection they face from family and peers.
Finding a therapist experienced with LGBTQ issues can help teens learn to manage stressors, speak up in appropriate ways, overcome social anxiety, and handle all the emotions that come their way. There are many reasons why adolescent struggle with social anxiety and for some it’s because they experience rejection for being an LGBTQ teen. The right therapist can help these teens come up with healthy strategies to overcome their social fears.
Another great option is to look for a mental health provider experienced with cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). This type of approach has been shown to be especially helpful in teens dealing with depression and anxiety. CBT can be used even in situations where there is substance abuse. Learning new habits can help LGBTQ teens overcome their mental health issues.
Encourage Them to Pursue Activities They Love
Some students love sports, while others find joy in going to comic book conventions. The key is to help them not only discover activities they enjoy but also to make time to do them. Having experiences and activities they love to do can help them find enjoyment in life beyond what they are experiencing as an LGBTQ teen. It can also help them find friendships with students from different backgrounds, who are also accepting of them for who they are. They can even pursue things they are passionate about which can lead them into a career later in life.
Recognize the Signs
Sometimes there are very obvious signs of mental health concerns in LGBTQ teens. This may include withdrawing from normal activities, changes in eating habits, sleep disturbances, and even sudden emotional outbursts. While many parents and caregivers might automatically attribute these symptoms to normal teenage behavior, sometimes they indicate that the teen is struggling and needs help for their mental health. Finding a good care provider who is also an ally for LGBTQ teens can help your youth tremendously. It’s important not to overlook these symptoms as “normal.” Even if they are common in teens, it doesn’t mean it’s normal.
Don’t be Afraid of Medication
Working with an experienced psychiatrist can help approach the mental health needs of LGBTQ teens from more than one angle. On the one hand, these young people need someone to talk to in order to work out what’s happening in their lives. On the other hand, they may need medication to help them in the meantime. A mental health crisis is a very serious situation and should not be taken lightly. Getting your LGBTQ teen assessed by a licensed medical professional can help determine the right course of action for them.
Listen Without Judgment
Sometimes, teens just need someone willing to listen without judgment or trying to fix them. They need someone who will hear them and validate what they are experiencing. Listening without judgment is one of the best ways to help LGBTQ teens in L.A. and Santa Clarita with their mental health needs.