Children and Young People's Mental Health and LGBT+ History Month

Children and Young People's Mental Health and LGBT+ History Month

Children and Young People's Mental Health and LGBT+ History Month

20th Feb 2022

Alder Hey's Director of Children and Young People, Community and Mental Health, Lisa Cooper, talks about how Alder Hey, the Youth Forum and Camhelions support LGBT+ History Month.

Lisa Cooper Lisa Cooper is the Director of Children and Young People, Community & Mental Health at Alder Hey

Last week was Children's Mental Health Week, an opportunity each year to shine a spotlight on the importance of children and young people’s mental health. The theme this year was Growing Together and, inspired by this, both the Alder Hey Youth Forum and Camhelions want to show their full support for children and young people who identify as LGBTIQ+.

Did you know that LGBTQI+ young people are over two-and-a-half times more likely to have a mental health problem as those who identify as heterosexual?

Being LGBTQI+ does not mean that a young person will have a mental health problem, the majority of LGBTQI+ young people do not.  However, identifying as part of the LGBTQI+ community can lead to unique challenges in growing up including fears about coming out, worries about being accepted by friends and family, and the impact of prejudice and discrimination. 

Anyone can experience a mental health problem but young people who identify as LGBTIQ+ are more likely to develop problems including low self-esteem; depression; anxiety (including social anxiety); eating problems; misusing drugs and alcohol; self-harm and suicidal feelings.

Sexual and gender identity is not a mental health problem, but the stress that young people may experience from the discriminatory, non-supportive attitudes and behaviours of others may contribute to feelings of low mood, anxiety and self-harm and other forms of mental health difficulties. 

It is therefore important to remember that young people deserve our support and respect, whatever their identity or background and that they have legal rights to access healthcare without discrimination.

I had the privilege this week of meeting Gabe who is a brilliant member of the amazing Camhelions Forum, a group of young people who represent the Sefton CAMHS Service. They bring their unique insight and energy to bear making positive change towards children and young people’s mental health by being involved in service improvement and supporting service recruitment.

Gabe, who is Trans, and I were discussing why it’s important to listen and support children and young people who identify as LGBTQI+

Gabe was clear and articulate on the difference Alder Hey staff can make, to show our support and make a positive difference to LGBTQI+ young people who access our services. 

Here are Gabe’ top tips:

  1. Ask the young person how they would like to be addressed, what is their preferred name and pronoun
  2. Don't make assumptions, everyone's experience is different. Ask the young person what is going on for them
  3. Listen to their experiences as young people may have experienced negativity when opening up about their experiences so give them space to talk about them
  4. Think about how you engage with the young person, don’t make throwaway comments or jokes, this can have a lasting negative impact on the young person
  5. Show them you care, smile, remember them when you see them, don’t ignore them
  6. Support them to seek help and reassure them that its ok to ask for help

Gabe was clear that by supporting LGBTQI+ young people we will have a positive impact on their health and wellbeing and lead to increased confidence; improved relationships with their friends and family; a sense of community and belonging; the freedom of self-expression and self-acceptance; increased resilience all of which support young people to have good mental health.

The following resources are available to for staff to support LGBTQI+ young people:

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