Supporting the mental health of LGBTQIA+ youth
Author: Jenni Ford (She/Her)
Date: June 12th, 2021
Each June, we celebrate Pride month in the US and throughout the world. As we do so I thought it would be good to touch on LGBTQIA+ children and teens mental health.
If some of those letters look new to you, that’s okay. Asking questions is part of the process of learning! When we learn about and support children and teens, they feel like we see them and that they matter. If you have questions about any of the letters, there are great books, websites, and friendly therapists to talk about it with. Please don’t hesitate to ask for recommendations!
LGBTQIA+ children and teens face challenges like any children such as friendships, homework, and bullying, but they may experience more difficulty asking for support and getting the mental health care that can help. Teens who are part of LGBTQIA+ community are 6 times more likely to experience symptoms of depression1 than their peers.
What can we do to support LGBTQIA+ children and teens mental health?
Be curious but willing to fail
You can be curious and open without being intrusive. Let your child or teen take the lead on which terms they want to use. Some kids may be questioning and not ready for a label. It is okay for parents to make mistakes during these conversations, genuinely apologize, and try again.
Start the conversation
Share your pronouns, ask their pronouns, and use them. I try to introduce myself with my name and pronouns when I meet someone new so it is more comfortable for others to share their pronouns. The single most affirming thing you can do for your child or teen is to use supportive, affirming language and pronouns.
Be their teammate
Work alongside your child or teen to find the type of support they need. Being an advocate for them getting support for their mental health can improve their long-term progress. Peer support groups, individual therapy, and parents’ involvement in PFLAG all can be beneficial.
Happy Pride Month to the LGBTQIA+ community, Allies, Affirming Therapists and Families, and Co-Conspirators working alongside the LGBTQIA+ community making changes to make it better for our children and teens!
 Anxiety & Depression Association of America. (2018). LGBTQ+ communities. https://adaa.org/lgbtq-communities