At Nexus Family Healing, we know that how we treat those who are different from us is incredibly important. When diversity is valued, our uniqueness is recognized, including differences in our gender identities and sexual orientation. These play an important role in everyone’s lives, and those who identify as LGBTQ face unique challenges regarding mental health.
LGBTQ Mental Health
According to The Trevor Project (2019), 39% of LGBTQ youth and more than half of transgender and non-binary youth have attempted or seriously considered suicide in the last year. Additionally, 71% have reported discrimination, and 2 in 3 youth have experienced someone in their lives attempting to change their sexual orientation or gender identity. These numbers point to a serious problem with how LGBTQ youth exist in the world and illustrate a need for programming that specifically acknowledges the importance of gender and sexuality - and creates a safe space for youth to heal.
LGBTQ Cultural Competencies
It is critical to address the challenges facing LGBTQ youth by dealing with the impact of trauma and mental health issues. Therapists with LGBTQ as a competency can help you and your child work through any underlying causes contributing to behavioral issues and explore the impact of sexual orientation or gender identity in their lives.
Clinicians should be affirming, inclusive, and open to the complex issues that may arise as the client tries to sort out where they belong. The youth may be struggling with shame, self-hatred, and self-rejection. The clinician needs to be willing to protect confidentiality and allow the individual to self-identify when ready.
At Nexus Family Healing, we include LGBTQ as one of the competency areas we focus on in our daily practice. We focus on educating families, kids, and referral agents that same sex relationships, as well as being transgender or nonbinary, are not problematic in and of themselves. Often, we help youth talk to their parents about their sexual identity and assist them with their relationships when it’s been fractured. We strive to have LGBTQ positive material and graphics on our campuses to let kids and families know that these are safe topics.
Jamie Kozma, Clinical Director at Nexus-Onarga Family Healing, one of our residential treatment programs, says “Therapy can help. Over the years we’ve seen multiple clients better define their sexual orientation or their gender identity through our services. Providing a safe and supportive environment of acceptance for LGBTQ youth can help them to heal and grow.”
No matter where clients access Nexus services - whether it's a child in residential treatment or a family seeking outpatient/community mental health services - we strive to provide consistent treatment and an inclusive mindset that embraces all identities.
This blog article was contributed by Jill Peisker, Nexus-Onarga Family Healing.
Nexus Family Healing is a national nonprofit mental health organization that restores hope for thousands of children and families who come to us for outpatient/community mental health services, foster care and adoption, and residential treatment. For over 45 years, our network of agencies has used innovative, personalized approaches to heal trauma, break cycles of harm, and reshape futures. We believe every child is worth it — and every family matters. Learn more at nexusfamilyhealing.org.