Supporting LGBTQ teenagers requires a holistic approach as it is essential to be proactive for their mental health and happiness. Your teenager may experience challenges unique to their identity, and luckily there are millions of resources available to best support their wellbeing. Creating an accepting environment, learning about mental health, and researching help are all part of taking care of them with a person-first approach. Consider these approaches as you show solidarity and educate yourself on the resources available to support your child best.
Creating a Safe Space
Despite the millions of LGBTQ youths in the United States, many suffer from isolation and abuse in their everyday lives. 92% reported experiencing negative treatment or education around their identities, which negatively impacts their self-esteem and mental health. The first thing you can do to support LGBTQ teenagers is create a safe space for them to feel accepted and heard. Toxic environments can prevent teens from advocating for themselves, asking for help, and creating genuine connections which are crucial at a young age. By creating a safe space, you allow them to take care of themselves and speak their truth.
You can ask teenagers:
- “How can I improve this environment for you?”
- “What can I do to support you right now?”
- “Do you feel comfortable and accepted in this space?”
Look out for Warning Signs
You can be mindful of warning signs from teenagers in the LGBTQ who may need extra support. Young adults are still learning how to advocate for themselves and ask for help, so keep a watchful eye for behavior that lets you know they need help. Depression and anxiety can lead to suicidal thoughts or behavior if treatment is not given appropriately. Alcohol can be used as an unhealthy coping mechanism for young adults, so consider holistic treatment centers that support LGBTQ teenagers if necessary. Isolation or social retreat are often warning signs of bullying and can be helped with support groups or joining a positive LGBTQ-friendly community. An effective way to be proactive is to discuss warning signs with teenagers and explain the emotions behind them, so they can advocate for themselves or escalate the situation with their own self-awareness.
Providing LGBTQ teenagers with resources is one of the best holistic approaches to ensuring their best mental health. Introducing them to organizations dedicated to supporting them improves their sense of solidarity and community. Do your own research or research resources together to let them know there are options available if they need help. Connect with therapists and support groups if your teenager feels like outside help is beneficial. There is no “right” or “wrong” way to provide support as long as the resources you find are positive, evidence-based if possible, and accepting. Educating yourself shows your teenager solidarity and empowers them to do the same when they need to.
By creating a safe space, being preventive rather than reactive, and educating yourself, you can provide holistic support to your teen’s mental health. There are endless resources available to LGBTQ youth, so be optimistic and go on your research journey together if they need a helping hand.