What Parents Can Do To Ensure They Are
May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Do you realize that research shows that LGBT individuals are three times more likely to experience a mental health condition? No wonder as they face health disparities linked to societal stigma, discrimination and the denial of their civil and human rights. Discrimination against LGBT persons has been associated with high rates of psychiatric disorders, substance abuse and suicide.
However, before you throw your hands up in the air and accept that you can not do anything to buffer your children, consider these options, all intended to support your children:
Research from The Family Project at San Francisco State demonstrates that a family’s acceptance of their LGBT’s children’s sexual orientation has much to do with their children’s mental health and personal safety. It protects against Suicide, Depression, and Substance Abuse and predicts better health and self-esteem.
For family acceptance:
You can order helpful family education booklets such as “Helping Families to Support Their LGBT Children” by Caitlin Ryan, Ph.D., ACSW from the Family Project. https://familyproject.sfsu.edu/, a research, intervention, education, and policy initiative that works to prevent health risks for LGBT children and youth.
Some parents have difficulty accepting their LGBT children’s sexual orientation due to lack of education, religious dictates, and society’s stigma. Suggestions from other parents, LGBT adults, and a psychiatrist who happens to be gay can help you attain unconditional acceptance of their LGBT child. The book When Your Child is Gay: What You Need To Know (Sterling, 2016) can help a parent resolve issues so they can love their LGBT child without reservation.
In terms of health, it is reported that more than one in five LGBT individuals report withholding information about their sexual practices from the doctor or another health care professional. Over thirty percent of transgender individuals stated that they postponed or avoided medical care when they were sick or injured. Approximately eight percent of LGB individuals and nearly twenty-seven percent of transgender individuals report being denied health care outright.
For health care:
Consult GLBT-friendly doctors: http://www.glma.org/index
There is a fairly new app for this search: http://www.newnownext.com/qspaces-app-lgbt-doctors/03/2017/
As LGBT youth are four times more likely to attempt suicide, experience suicidal thoughts, and engage in self-harm, especially if they keep their sexuality hidden, there is an LGBT suicide Hotline: http://www.thetrevorproject.org/1-866-488-7386. Far worse, the suicide ideation of transsexuals is estimated at thirty-eight to as high as 65 percent. The Trans Lifeline: https://www.translifeline.org./1-877-565-8860.
These are just some of the things as a parent you can reference so your child is not at risk for mental and physical health problems. You can provide your child with the comfort and stability that are crucial in leading to a positive outcome. Let your home be a safe haven against bullying and stigma. Send a message to your LGBT child that you are unequivocally on his side. The statistics of mental health problems for the LGBT population is already staggering.
When Your Child Is Gay: What You Need To Know
For more detailed advice, see book, co-authored with a mother of a gay son and a psychiatrist, Jonathan L. Tobkes, M.D.