LGBTQ+ Youth and Eating Disorders – by, Becky Henry, CPCC


Last week, we celebrated the 20th National LGBTQ Health Awareness Week, which intends to promote mental health and trans health awareness for the LGBTQ community as well as professionals within and allies of the community. This year’s theme was “Live Out Loud,” encouraging everyone to speak openly about LGBTQ health and end the stigma through accessible, affirming, and inclusive healthcare services that allow everyone to fully live their truth. Now, that’s a message I can stand behind! Learn more about the National Coalition for LGBTQ Health.

I believe that everyone deserves access to life-changing healthcare services and life-saving interventions. I implore you to raise your voice and get involved! And yes, that is me showing my support as an ally. Kids who have allies have better outcomes.

KNOW THE FACTS

Human Rights Campaign and researchers at the University of Connecticut found that:

  • 77 percent of LGBTQ teenagers surveyed report feeling depressed or down over the past week;
  • 95 percent of LGBTQ youth report trouble sleeping at night;
  • LGBTQ youth of color and transgender teenagers experience unique challenges and elevated stress — only 11 percent of youth of color surveyed believe their racial or ethnic group is regarded positively in the U.S., and over 50 percent of trans and gender expansive youth said they can never use school restrooms that align with their gender identity;
  • More than 70 percent report feelings of worthlessness and hopelessness in the past week;
  • Only 26 percent say they always feel safe in their school classrooms — and just five percent say all of their teachers and school staff are supportive of LGBTQ people;
  • 77 percent report that they’ve heard family members make negative comments about LGBTQ people.

RESEARCH ON LGBTQ+ PEOPLE AND EATING DISORDERS

Research remains limited on eating disorders among LGBTQ+ populations. Existing research from the National Eating Disorder Association:

  • In one study, gay and bisexual boys reported being significantly more likely to have fasted, vomited, or taken laxatives or diet pills to control their weight in the last 30 days.
  • Gay males were seven times more likely to report binging and 12 times more likely to report purging than heterosexual males.
  • Females identified as lesbian, bisexual, or mostly heterosexual were about twice as likely to report binge-eating at least once per month in the last year.
  • Elevated rates of binge-eating and purging by vomiting or laxative abuse was found for people who identified as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or “mostly heterosexual” in comparison to their heterosexual peers.
  • Black and Latinx LGBs have at least as high a prevalence of eating disorders as white LGBs.
  • A sense of connectedness to the gay community was related to fewer current eating disorders, which suggests that feeling connected to the gay community may have a protective effect against eating disorders.

HOW CAN YOU GET INVOLVED?

Eating Disorder Family Support

Getting support for the family and caregiver is critical to ensure the right solution and support is available for your loved one.

“#1 reason to involve caregivers in treatment: Improved outcomes for patients and caregivers across the lifespan.”~ Dr. Adele LaFrance

  • reduced eating disorder psychopathology
  • improved quality of life
  • reduced stays
  • reduce caregiver burden
  • reduced expressed emotion in the family

All My Best,





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