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A Clinicians’ Guide to Serving and Protecting LGBTQIA+ Youth

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LGBTQIA+ youth face an elevated risk for experiencing serious mental health issues.1 Depression and anxiety impact more than half of all youth who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning, intersex, or asexual, according to a 2022 survey by the Trevor Project.2 In addition, 45% of LGBTQIA+ adolescents and young adults say they have seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year, according to the same survey.2To end this devastating trend and save lives, LGBTQIA+ youth need many things — primary among them is support.

We know that societal mistreatment and stigmatization impair the mental health of this group, and that LGBTQ youth who live in accepting, affirming, and supportive environments experience fewer mental health issues than do their peers who do not.1 Health care providers must also do their part to provide inclusive care and reduce barriers to mental health care services for this group, as 60% of LGBTQ youth who wanted mental health care in the past year were not able to access it.2It is normal and healthy for youth to explore or question their gender, sexuality, and other aspects of identity.

These behaviors are not indicative of a mental health crisis. Youth navigating their gender and sexuality definitely need affirming health care – and they need compassionate and competent providers to meet them where they are.A welcoming environment helps build patient trust and ultimately helps practitioners provide appropriate care.

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