Adolescence can be a difficult time, especially for LGBT youth. Because of the added pressure of fitting in and being accepted by their peers, LGBT teens can be at a greater risk for anxiety and depression. To reduce this risk, there are many ways parents and other role models can make sure they have a strong support network.
1. Let Them Know You’re There
One of the most impactful steps you can take to support LGBT youth is by simply letting them know you’re there. Understanding that they have someone who will listen to, support and empathize with them can have a profound impact on any child.
2. Educate Yourself
If you’re not sure you know and understand the differences between things like sexual orientation and gender identity, take some time to educate yourself. This can show your child that you understand him or her, and will help to make it more comfortable for them to share thoughts and feelings with you.
3. Don’t Diminish Other Aspects of Their Identity
Even if you have good intentions, forgetting that LGBT youths are also soccer players, artists or straight-A students can make them feel that their gender identity or sexual orientation defines who they are as a person. It’s also crucial to support their hobbies, schoolwork and other activities.
4. Find Support Services
It’s been shown that anxiety and depression rates increase in LGBT youth without a support network. Finding local LGBT support services geared toward young people can be another way to ensure that your child has plenty of positive support. Pediatricians also now recommend that all children be screened annually for depression, which can help to detect signs of anxiety and depression before they become a larger problem.