How LGBTQ+ Teens Can Benefit From Support Groups

How LGBTQ+ Teens Can Benefit From Support Groups

Programs that support LGBTQ+ youth are essential for the health and well-being of young members of the LGBTQ+ community. According to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 69% of all LGBTQ+ youth stated they were persistently sad and hopeless as of 2021. This was compared to 35% of heterosexual youth who reported feeling this way. In addition, LGBTQ+ youth are more likely than heterosexual peers to experience bullying, threats, or injury with weapons, or dating violence and are four times as likely to be victims of forced sex.

All of these challenges come with serious risks to the emotional and psychological well-being of LGBTQ+ teens. According to a 2021 survey, 42% of LGBTQ+ youth had seriously considered a suicide attempt within the past year. Given this fact, it is critical that schools and community organizations take steps to improve mental health in LGBTQ+ teens.

One strategy for supporting LGBTQ+ youth is linking them with support groups. The benefits of these groups are discussed in more detail below. 

Benefits Of Support Groups For LGBTQ+ Teens

There is plenty of data that indicates that teens who belong to the LGBTQ+ community have a need for mental health support. While individual counseling and therapy can be helpful, peer support groups can play an instrumental role in promoting psychological well-being in this population. 

Consider the benefits below.

Positive Relationships With Peers

Experts recommend that LGBTQ+ youth be surrounded by safe, supportive environments where they have access to affirming peers. Support groups provide this type of environment. When a teen joins a support group, they will be connected to peers who affirm their LGBTQ+ identity, creating a safe environment for sharing about life’s challenges. 

Connecting to peers in this setting can be highly beneficial for LGBTQ+ teens. Research shows that LGBTQ+ youth who attend support groups report increased social support. This social support can be invaluable as LGBTQ+ teens navigate the difficulties and changes that come with the adolescent years. 

Improved Coping Skills

Connecting with peers in support groups can also improve coping skills for teens. During support group meetings, teens can learn from others who are experiencing the same challenges they are. For instance, during support group discussions, teens may learn coping strategies from peers who are navigating the same waters.

A teen who was previously using unhealthy coping strategies, such as turning to substance misuse or self-harm, can learn more adaptive strategies from peers. They might learn that their peers cope by exercising, listening to music, or engaging in hobbies. This can enhance a teen’s ability to cope with challenges like conflict with parents, peer rejection, and issues related to identity. 

Better Mental Health

Finally, support groups are a beneficial tool for addressing the mental health challenges that are prevalent in LGBTQ+ youth. Remember, nearly half report seriously contemplating suicide, and over two-thirds state they are persistently sad and hopeless. 

The good news is that support groups can play a major role in helping LGBTQ+ teens to cope and overcome symptoms that lead to hopelessness and thoughts of suicide. One study that evaluated the benefits of an LGBTQ+ support group program found that participation increased levels of social support, which in turn, reduced symptoms of depression and increased self-esteem.

LGBTQ+ Teen Support Groups and Counseling Near You 

Support groups can be an antidote to many of the challenges that LGBTQ+ youth face. These groups link teens to sources of social support and provide a safe environment for sharing concerns and life challenges. Participating in such groups can improve coping skills and reduce some of the mental health problems, such as depression and suicidal thinking, that LGBTQ+ youth may face as they navigate the realities that come with the teen years. 

At Bridge to Balance, we offer support groups for LGBTQ+ teens. We are a New Jersey-based therapy provider, offering both individual and group services. Visit our webpage today to learn more about our support group locations and offerings. 




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