A recent article from the Richmond Times-Dispatch revealed some disturbing facts when it comes to mental health and youth in Virginia. According to Mental Health America, Virginia was ranked 38th among states, down from the previous ranking of 27th. A major reason for this downgrade in ranking was due to the fact that youth in the state who battle depression are less likely to receive treatment compared to other states.
Major barriers currently exist that prevent youth from receiving mental health treatment, including the fact that Virginia only spends 52% of the national average on community-based mental health care according to Bruce Cruser, Executive Director of Mental Health America of Virginia—who was quoted in the article. Currently, the Governor is exploring a number of efforts to improve access to mental health care in the state. Some of these efforts include an expansion of Medicaid and improving access to care.
Addressing mental health of youth is critically important, especially for those who identify as LGBTQ+ who are twice as likely as their peers to say they have been physically assaulted, kicked or shoved. Having one’s physical well-being at risk can have negative consequences on LGBTQ+ youth education. In fact, the latest school climate snap shot by GLSEN revealed that Virginia schools are not safe for most LGBTQ+ youth. Additionally, this impacts the mental health of LGBTQ+ youth in the following ways:
- Substance Use: Gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender youth are more than twice as likely to experiment with drugs and alcohol.
- Happiness: Only 37% of LGBT youth report being happy, while 67% of non-LGBT youth say they are happy. However, over 80% of LGBT youth believe they will be happy eventually, with nearly half believing that they will need to move away from their current town to find happiness.
- Self-Harm: With each instance of verbal or physical harassment, the risk of self-harm among LGBT youth is 2 ½ times more likely.
- Suicide: Gay, lesbian, and bisexual youth are 4 times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual counterparts.
Mental health is a major issue that cannot be ignored, particularly as it pertains to our youth who are some of the most vulnerable. The article and aforementioned facts, demonstrate just how important it is for the community to be aware of the impact that a lack of mental health awareness and solutions can have on society. Without comprehensive solutions, the future of our youth is at stake.
Safe Space, Inc., encourages Governor Terry McAuliffe and members of the Virginia General Assembly to pay particular attention to LGBTQ+ youth when making critical decisions about how to improve mental health services for Virginia youth.
Blog was originally posted at: http://safespaceva.com/mental-health-in-virginia-lgbt-youth/