How to best support LGBTQ + youth struggling with depression and anxiety
PROVO, Utah – Eighty-six percent of LGBTQ youth have experienced bullying at school and are twice as likely experience hopelessness and sadness. Young trans people are twice as likely to experience depression and attempt suicide.
A teenage girl from Provo shared her story at the end of Pride Month.
19-year-old Jenna Webb is a talented artist.
“I really like art. I particularly like oil painting, ”she said.
She is also an intern at Circle, where she mentors other LGBTQ + youth.
Jenna identifies as homosexual.
She first came out to her mother when she was in college. She said it wasn’t a difficult decision since she shares such a close relationship with her.
“My God, she’s so smart and sweet. She’s sweet, she’s fierce, like, fiercely protective and loyal, ”described her mother, Mary Webb, Jenna.
“We were just like talking and hanging out and I was like, ‘Mom, I’m not straight,’ Jenna recalls with a chuckle. ‘And that means something and I want to share that with you because you’re my mom. . “
“Honestly, it sounded like a conversation,” Mary said.
“‘Thank you for telling me. Thank you for trusting me. What can I do? How can I support you?’ She replied to her daughter.
“It was really nice to have the community within my family as well, and it made me feel comfortable going out,” said Jenna.
Although she felt the love of her mother and her family, many of whom are also part of the LGBT community, she admitted that it had not always been easy. His sanity began to take its toll.
“Feeling so deep in your soul that there’s something wrong with you, like, it’s incredibly isolating, and honestly, like, frustrating,” she described. “You feel like you’re the only one who really feels this. “
She said it was terrifying not knowing a lot of other people who were part of this community.
“It really hurts your self-esteem and your self-confidence,” she said. “I really internalized that, and I felt like I wasn’t telling myself the truth for a long time.”
Jenna was diagnosed with depression and anxiety and spent several weeks in a psychiatric unit while in high school.
Jess Holzbauer is a registered clinical social worker and the day treatment manager at Huntsman Institute of Mental Health. She often works with LGBTQ + teens.
“They experience significantly higher rates of depression and anxiety than their peers,” said Holzbauer. “There is about 50% more incidence of depression and anxiety in people who do not identify as heterosexual. “
She said this community faces unique challenges, combined with the already difficult experience of being a teenager.
“Not only are they trying to figure out, you know, how to do it socially, but they’re also trying to figure out this really, really important and central part of who they are,” she said.
It’s only natural that this demographic are constantly checking their surroundings, Holzbauer said. “Check to see – is the environment safe? Do the people I am around accept?
“And then you complicate that with having to explain yourself frequently. It’s exhausting, isn’t it?” She said. “A lot of kids will talk about feeling finished at the end of the day and not wanting to go. engage, which we know can lead to additional isolation, which can lead to other symptoms of depression. “
Depression can affect sleep, appetite, and the ability to concentrate.
“It affects our ability to have some kind of hope for the future, so it’s just that deep void,” Holzbauer described.
She said anxiety often manifests as a feeling of hyper-consciousness, impending disaster, or chronic headaches or stomach aches.
“The irritability that we often see in teenagers, especially with depression as well, and anxiety. They are sharp, they are easily annoyed, ”she said.
Holzbauer urged parents, family, friends and employers to lend their support.
“Just be inviting, interested, curious, listening,” she said.
She also said that making an effort to use someone’s favorite pronouns goes a long way.
“Mental health problems are often exacerbated by negative reactions to their sexual orientation or gender identity, whether from family, friends, teachers or their religious community,” a- she declared. “We know there is a relationship between loved ones using a teen’s favorite pronouns and their health and happiness.”
Holzbauer acknowledged that this can be a very difficult thing for families and friends to do.
“And when you don’t do it right 100% of the time, it’s really important to recognize it and move on,” she said.
Jenna found great support when she found Encircle in first grade in high school.
“Oh my God, like, I’m not alone!” she remembers feeling it after her first visit. “Mostly meeting all of these amazing people and just knowing that there is nothing wrong with them. So how could there be something wrong with me?
She also enjoyed continued strength thanks to her mother.
“My mom was like the source of healing and growth,” Jenna said. “She cares so much about her children who are telling the truth and love to be a space of honesty.”
“Sometimes I don’t know what is the best thing to do,” admitted Mary, but said it was enough to ask. “How can I be there for you? How can I improve your day? You just have to see the person.
“When a parent can just listen and seek to understand, it can be extremely helpful. And parents don’t need to have the answers. They certainly don’t need to have the solution, ”said Holzbauer.
“Questions like, ‘Oh, wow, I’d like to know more about this. It seems really, really difficult, ”she suggested.
This is exactly what makes teens feel loved, validated and listened to, she said.
“Hey, you are special to me. I love you, and therefore, who you are, I love it and I accept it, in the end. That’s what LGBTQ youth want, right? It’s understanding and acceptance, ”said Holzbauer.
“This person to whom you gave birth and whom you have given birth to is a unique expression. No one else is like them, and they become your child, and you get the best experience watching them develop, ”said Mary. “Why not with the time I have here, I absolutely and genuinely appreciate the person I meet… it’s so exciting just getting to know this person.”
Marie often wonders: “How would I like someone to treat me? How would I want someone to treat me if I came to them with something that I felt was so essential and tender? “
As a therapist, Holzbauer strongly believes in the power of therapy, both for the individual and for his family. She thinks it can be extremely helpful at all stages, both for those already struggling with their mental health and proactively before someone feels down.
Most importantly, Jenna reminded other LGBTQ + youth that there is hope.
“Everything is really improving,” she said. “I was like the happiest of my life. It just means everything to know that everyone around you cares.
Jenna is a student at UVU and aspires to practice medicine, especially to improve the lives of the LGBTQ + community and their mental health. She is also vice-president of the Women of the UVU student chapter and currently working in HR.
“I feel so good that I can accomplish so much while being a part of the community,” she said.
- Circle Utah offers daily programs, online and in-person support groups for parents and youth ages 12-18, and therapy programs for youth ages 12 and older.
- The Trevor project for LGBTQ + youth. If you are a young person in crisis, feeling suicidal, or in need of a safe, non-judgmental place, call TrevorLifeline at 1-866-488-7386 or send START at 678678. Trained counselors are available 24 hours a day. 24 and 7 days a week.
- Utah Pride Center has Youth and Family programs that serve youth and young adults ages 0-22. E-mail [email protected] for more information.
- Gender spectrum has online support groups for teens (ages 13-19), black and non-binary transgender teen groups, tweens (ages 10-12), the National Parent Support Group and many more Moreover.
- Family Acceptance Project is a resource for parents struggling with acceptance to step up acceptance. They provide training and counseling to parents, caregivers, clergy and allies.
- Utah LGBTQ Affirmative Psychotherapist Guild is a good resource for individuals and families to find licensed therapists who affirm LGBTQ issues and have experience working with LGBTQ clients.
- Utah Crisis Line at HMHI: 1-800-273-8255 Call 24/7 to speak to a licensed Crisis Counselor at the Huntsman Mental Health Institute if you or a loved one is having suicidal thoughts, experiencing an emotional or mental health crisis, or if you feel overwhelmed and in need. Support.
- Utah Hot Line: 833-SPEAKUT (833-773-2588 toll free) Open 7 days a week, 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. Certified peer specialists provide support for people who are feeling stressed, overwhelmed, isolated or who just need to talk to someone. ‘one to.
- SafeUT Crisis Chat Tip app Huntsman Mental Health Institute’s licensed crisis counselors are available 24/7 to answer all incoming chats, advice and calls by providing support or crisis, suicide prevention and referral services. . Support is also available for parents and educators of K-12 public and higher education students.