Call to Mind: Queer Youth Resilience & Mental Health

queer youth mental health
Call to Mind | APM

Every day, queer teens and young adults are challenged by the politicization of gender identity and sexual orientation and the rise in anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination.

And the mental health consequences are alarming.

A staggering 41 percent of LGBTQ+ youth 13 through 24 report to have seriously considered suicide, and 14 percent have tried to hurt themselves, according to a new report from The Trevor Project.

Given that LGBTQ+ youth face continued fights around their identity, what are mental health concerns specific to queer youth? And what support is necessary for LGBTQ+ teens and young adults to take care of their well-being amid a national political climate that’s working against them?

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MPR News shares a special broadcast from Call to Mind, American Public Media’s initiative to foster conversations about mental health. 

Three licensed mental health professionals with expertise in LGBTQ+ youth mental health joined Call to Mind host Kimberly Adams: Brian Coleman, LCPC; Laura Holt, Ph.D. and Danielle Ramo, Ph.D. 

“If we can agree that we want our students to feel safe, and we can also look at the evidence that LGBTQAI youth are disproportionately impacted by mental health issues–then there is work that has to be done in our schools to make them safer,” Coleman said during the show.

“If trans people are raised in affirming environments, by families who are able to give them the freedom to be themselves, their mental health outcomes are really good,” Holt said.

“The traditional mental health system hasn't served the queer community very well historically, by pathologizing sexuality or diversity and gender identity, and queer young people might have even additional mistrust than their peers,” Ramo said.

We also hear from Steven Rocha, the policy director at PRISM Florida, an organization that aims to expand access to LGBTQ+ inclusive education and sexual health resources for youth in South Florida, and Jordyn Pruitt, a student at Georgia College & State University.

The broadcast special includes experts’ insights on queer youth mental health, new data from the Trevor Project about the consequences of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation, stories of families in different parts of the country who face state laws that prevent trans people from accessing gender-affirming care and the voices of young people attending the Miami Beach Pride festival.    

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