The Impact Program recently published a White Paper exploring the health disparities amongst Chicago’s LGBT youth population in several areas, including mental health, sexual health, physical health, and substance use. This paper concludes that there are significant health disparities for LGBT youth.
Compared to heterosexual youth, LGBT youth are more likely to struggle with depression, suicide attempts, self-injury, and are more likely to report vomiting to lose weight. They are also more likely to engage in risky sexual behaviors, exposing themselves to HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs.) Substance use is common. Additionally, many LGBT youth have experienced violence, including sexual violence.
There are many reasons for these disparities that the report does not explore. Homophobia in schools, families, churches, and community can create an oppressive and stressful environment for LGBT youth. There has also been a lack of LGBT inclusive education for youth about HIV prevention, sexual health, substance use, and violence prevention. LGBT youth may feel that they have nowhere to turn for help.
A major conclusion of the White Paper is the invaluable role of support for these youth. Specifically, the paper commented on the positive role of gay-straight alliances in schools on LGBT youth. Peer and family support is an essential factor in lowering depressive symptoms, preventing victimization, and decreasing alcohol use. The role of community support is also important. Community centers and therapy practices that are LGBT focused are a source of connection, support, and safety.
At IntraSpectrum Counseling, we are committed to being a source of support in the Chicago LGBTQI community. IntraSpectrum Counseling offers a uniquely validating and supportive therapeutic environment that is focused on helping our clients discover their authentic selves, find their sources of strength, meaning, hope, and resiliency, and ultimately thrive in an oftentimes hostile world. All of our counselors have specialized training and experience working with LGBTQI clients. We offer a range of services including individual counseling, group counseling, gay relationship counseling, and transgender counseling in Chicago. We work with a diverse client base and are committed to meeting the needs of the LGBTQI community and beyond.
Impact Program White Paper-http://www.impactprogram.org/youth/impact-white-paper-2012/