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Five Ways to Support LGBTQ+ Youth Mental Health

LGBTQ+ youth are resilient but they may struggle with mental health challenges. Family support can make a huge difference.

Being LGBTQ+ doesn’t cause mental health problems. However, as LGBTQ+ youth often face factors like rejection, bullying and violence, they are at a higher risk of mental health challenges such as depression, anxiety and substance abuse. According to The Trevor Project, LGTBQ+ youth have higher rates of contemplating, attempting and dying by suicide. And as the opioid epidemic grows in the U.S., LGBTQ+ youth disproportionately face a higher rate of substance abuse and the health risks that come with it.

Parents, guardians, teachers, psychologists, guidance counselors and other adult mentors are key to providing support for LGTBQ+ youth and helping to build greater awareness and understanding of the challenges these teens face.

Here are six ways to help support LGBTQ+ kids’ mental health during Pride Month, and all year long.

Educate Yourself
There are numerous resources for learning more about the specific obstacles that LGTBQ+ kids face including:

GLSEN: A nonprofit founded by teachers to ensure LGTBQ+ students have a safe place to learn

It Gets Better Project: A global nonprofit that creates media programming as well as community-based programs pertaining to LGTBQ+ education and support. Their website features videos of experts s well as
gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer youth Created by the American Academy of Pediatrics, this organization isn’t solely focused on LGTBQ+ issues but they offer helpful articles including ways parents and caregivers can promote healthy gender development in their kids.

Woman and girl giving lovely hug and smiling

Family acceptance and support is imperative for LGTBQ+ youth to grow up accepting themselves and creating a positive self-image

Treat Them the Way You Would Treat Any Child
Kids just want to feel “normal” and a major way to support LGTBQ+ youth is to treat them just as you would other children. Parents or guardians can do this by showing interest in what they are interested in and offer praise when they perform well at something to help build their confidence.

Provide LGTBQ Representation
Reading books or watching film or TV shows with LGTBQ+ characters can help your youth feel seen and represented. In fact, The Trevor Project found that 89% of LGBTQ+ youth report that seeing LGBTQ+ representation in TV and movies makes them feel good. They also feel positive seeing musicians, athletes and other celebrities come out as LGBTQ+.
Read Brightly has a list of books for youth and teens and OK2bME has a list of various media featuring LGTBQ+ themes and characters.

Advocate when Necessary
As youth who identify as LGTBQ+ are at a greater risk of being bullied, parents and guardians should step in when appropriate. This can include filing a complaint at a school if a youth is facing intimidation, exclusion or harassment, or learning about local or state policies that may be detracting from LGBTQ+ mental health and wellness.

Before lodging an official complaint, talk with your youth to make sure they are on board with your decision. Consulting with a family counselor can also be effective for talking through options.

Allow the Child to Come Out on Their Timeline
Coming out is a process. A youth may feel comfortable with certain people knowing their orientation, gender or identity but may not be ready to tell others just set. One of the best ways parents and family members can show support is to allow the youth to guide the timeline of who they want to tell and when.
One of the best ways parents and guardians can demonstrate their understanding is to be supportive. It’s important to listen when your child comes out to you without making them feel guilty or as if they need to hide their identity. When an LGTBQ+ youth feels rejected by their family, it can be especially damaging.

If you feel your LGTBQ+ youth is struggling, consult a mental health professional for an evaluation.

If you’re not sure where to start, contact our Admissions Team at 805-366-4000 or via email at We’ll help you take the next step to ensure that your child gets the help they need to build resilience, confidence and self-love.


Camino a Casa specializes in mental health treatment for youth ages 12-17 including residential treatment, partial hospitalization, intensive outpatient and in-home behavioral services. Contact us today at 805-366-4000 to learn more about our therapeutic programs specifically for teens.

You make the decision, we’ll take care of the rest.  805-366-4000