Equitable access to physical and mental healthcare should be a human right. This access is especially critical for LGBTQ+ students.
At least one LGBTQ youth between the ages of 13–24 attempts suicide every 45 seconds in the U.S., according to a recent estimate from The Trevor Project.
“Understanding the number of LGBTQ youth who seriously consider and attempt suicide, as well as how often suicide risk occurs, improves our ability to serve and advocate for LGBTQ youth.”–The Trevor Project, 2021
Mental health is a long-neglected issue in pediatric populations, with those who are most vulnerable often lacking access to support and/or care. The COVID-19 pandemic has only contributed to this gap, leading to an increase in mental health symptoms, diagnoses and crises across the country.
Creating safe, supportive spaces where every student can thrive is a critical goal for most educators. To achieve this, education leaders can provide school-based services–like confidential telehealth.
The pandemic’s impact on LGBTQ+ students
In addition to academics, schools are a place for students to socialize. When the pandemic hit, classes moved online to keep students and staff safe. Unfortunately, some protective factors, such as peer relationships and the presence of mentors, were lost in the process.
An article from Brookings estimates the impact, stating “Although it’s too soon to conclusively link national youth suicide data to the pandemic, school districts across the nation have been reporting alarming spikes in both suicides and attempts at self-harm.” The same article cites educators as key in protecting student mental health.
When students aren’t on the physical campus, it is more challenging for educators to monitor and support their wellbeing. Issues of identity and development, plus relationship stress, are common consequences of this challenge. This is especially for LGBTQ+ students.
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