Mental Health Support for LGBTQ+ Students
Last updated August 17, 2023
As an LGBTQ+ high school or college student, you may face unique challenges that affect your mental health and well-being. It is important to know that support is available to you. This article aims to guide you in seeking mental health support, promoting LGBTQ+ friendly spaces, and connecting you with trusted individuals who can provide understanding and assistance.
Find and Create Safe Spaces Where Your Identity is Embraced
Finding a safe and inclusive environment is crucial for your mental health as an LGBTQ+ student. Look for LGBTQ+-friendly schools and clubs where you can freely express yourself without fear of judgment or discrimination. These spaces not only affirm your identity but also provide opportunities to connect with others who share similar experiences. When considering schools to attend, research to see if potential institutions are open about affirming the experiences of LGBTQ+ students. Check for diversity and inclusion statements that speak to the institution's efforts for fostering an inclusive environment where all students feel safe and accepted.
Identify Trusted Individuals to Turn To
It is essential to have trusted individuals in your life whom you can confide in about your experiences. Educators such as teachers, counselors, or mentors can be valuable allies who can provide guidance, support, and understanding. If you have a coach or boss who demonstrates inclusivity, they can also serve as a source of support. These individuals can offer advice, connect you with resources, and be a listening ear during challenging times. Remember, you are not alone, and there are people who genuinely care about your well-being.
Utilize School Resources
Your educational institution likely provides resources to support your mental health and well-being. Seek out counseling services within your school that offer LGBTQ+-affirming therapists who understand your unique experiences and challenges. LGBTQ+ centers or organizations on campus can provide safe spaces, resources, and support groups where you can connect with like-minded individuals. Additionally, explore academic departments that offer courses or research opportunities related to LGBTQ+ topics, providing a supportive academic environment.
Utilize Community Resources
Beyond your school, there are community resources available to support you as an LGBTQ+ student. LGBTQ+-focused nonprofits, city centers, and community-based organizations (CBOs) offer counseling, support groups, and educational programs. These resources can provide a sense of belonging and additional support when you may feel isolated within your school setting. Research your local organizations and reach out to find the support and community you deserve. Some of these community resources can look like:
This is a common, traditional route for mental health support. When searching for a therapist, explore the ways practitioners and clinics define their approaches to therapy. Ask about their philosophies and experience working with others — perhaps specifically those who share some of your identities.
Clients can meet with a therapist via video streaming without meeting in person. When possible, you can consider some of the same aspects of compatibility described above.
Campus or community support groups address shared experiences through different formats such as peer-to-peer support, counselor facilitated meet-ups or culturally-based group healing sessions.
LGBTQ+ Campus Support Services and Centers
Support staff at LGBTQ+ centers on campuses can connect students to community resources, building connections and working to improve learners' mental health.
Health and Wellness Services
Programs on campus or in the surrounding community may offer a variety of additional services to support student wellness, including 24/7 emergency response, counseling centers, and tailored services for many different populations.
Take Advantage of Job Resources and Workplace Support for LGBTQ+ Employees
When entering the workforce, seek employers who prioritize inclusivity and offer support to LGBTQ+ employees. Your workplace may have employee handbooks, human resources departments, or affinity groups that provide valuable information and assistance. Larger organizations may have LGBTQ+ employee resource groups that offer support, networking opportunities, and mentorship programs. Creating a supportive work environment contributes to your mental well-being and ensures that you can thrive professionally.
Additional Support and Helplines
During times of crisis or when you need immediate assistance, it is crucial to know where to turn. The Trevor Project is an organization specifically dedicated to LGBTQ+ youth, offering a 24/7 crisis hotline, online chat, and safe spaces to connect with trained counselors. Additionally, various LGBTQ+ support groups and organizations exist locally and nationally, providing resources, helplines, and opportunities for community engagement. LGBTQ+ students of color and other minority students may encounter barriers to mental wellness support. Using tools to seek out competent therapists and culturally-relevant healing practices can give you a broader range of choices. Here are a few other resources to explore:
- It Gets Better Project - The mission of the IGB Project is to give LGBT youth across the world hope that things do get better.
- Gay Straight Alliance Networks - GSAs are student run clubs operating in both high school and middle schools that provide support, socialization, and activism activities for LGBTQ youth.
- The JED Foundation - JED is a nonprofit organization focused on emotional health and suicide prevention for teens and young adults.
- Consortium of Higher Education LGBT Resource Professionals - The consortium maintains an interactive map of LGBTQ+ support service centers on college campuses across the country.
- Trans Lifeline - Trans Lifeline is a grassroots hotline and microgrant organization that provides direct emotional and financial support to trans people experiencing crises.
- Inclusive Therapists - This directory helps individuals find culturally responsive, LGBTQ+ affirming, social justice-oriented therapists nationwide.
- FOLX Health - This online resource aids queer and trans folks in overcoming barriers to accessing various forms of medical care.
As an LGBTQ+ student, it is vital to seek mental health support and connect with resources tailored to your unique needs. You deserve the space to embrace your identity, find safe spaces, and confide in trusted individuals who understand and support you. Remember, there are helplines and support groups available to assist you during challenging times. You are not alone, and your mental health matters.