YPulse has told you that the number of Gen Z who identify as LGBTQ+ continues to grow, and their needs are different compared to their non-LGBTQ+ counterparts. One major difference that YPulse’s Mental Health report data has uncovered is that LGBTQ+ youth are far more likely to be struggling with their mental health than their non-LGBTQ+ peers. Though these generations are growing up with more acceptance and openness around their sexual identities than previous, there are many, many obstacles they still face, and their mental wellness reflects these burdens.
There’s plenty of factors contributing to the anxieties of the younger generations, but for LGBTQ+ youth, each week seems to bring a new threat to their community, and in turn, they themselves. In recent months, states across the U.S. have passed anti-LGBTQ+ legislation including banning gender affirming care for young transgender people, the use of gender- and sexuality-based language in classrooms, and public drag show performances. In tandem with all the other issues facing young people, these threats contribute to 84% of LGBTQ+ youth agreeing they feel anxious about the future, compared to 72% of non-LGBTQ+ youth.
Though conversations about mental health management have become more mainstream—thanks to the young generations—knowing how to address issues on their own can still be hard for young people. These two stats show how LGBTQ+ youth are clearly struggling with mental wellness more than their peers, how they’re interested in working on their mental health, and how brands and organizations could be helping:
Sixty-three percent of 13-39-year-olds overall tell us they are interested in speaking one-on-one with someone about their mental health—but that number is even higher among LGBTQ+ youth. In fact, 75% of LGBTQ+ young consumers tell us they are interested in doing so (up from 70% last year) compared to 59% of non-LGBTQ+ young consumers. And they’re more likely to have done so already; 72% of young LGBTQ+ people say they have spoken to a mental health professional before, compared to 50% of non-LGBT youth. However, finding mental health professionals they trust can be especially hard for LGBTQ+ youth, and even more so if they live in a region where care is made less accessible for them.
But in recent years therapists working specifically with underserved communities like people of color and queer people (and those who identify as both) have taken to social media to connect with these populations to address problems they’re going through, and even giving them tips on how to find the right therapist for them. Some private practices in the country also specialize in working with underrepresented and misunderstood populations. For instance, Magnolia Wellness works with POC and LGBTQ+ patients who have experienced trauma through specialized treatments and practices including sound therapy and other psychotherapy techniques to provide a well-rounded healing experience. Teen Vogue reported that LGBTQ+ college students often have to face questions about gender, sexuality, identity, and acceptance, and educational institutions need to make sure that queer and trans students have the resources they need, from individual therapy to support groups.
According to nonprofit The Trevor Project, which runs suicide prevention efforts for LGBTQ+ youth through providing 24/7 crisis support services, their counselors fielded over 200K “crisis contacts” in 2021 with more than half of those calls coming from people under the age of 18, and nearly half were from people of color. One of the things that has helped the nonprofit organization thrive is help from their brand partners, including Google, YouTube, Macy’s, Procter & Gamble, Harry’s, and Abercrombie & Fitch, which have kept their work funded. The group’s work has proven to be an asset for companies who want to demonstrate to the LGBTQ+ community that “their corporate hearts are in the right place”—and donating to or collaborating with a nonprofit organization like The Trevor Project can ensure that LGBTQ+ youth are getting the individual support they need. But while therapy, of course, is important to LGBTQ+ young consumers, they’re also more likely to want products to help them cope with anxiety and stress…
Nearly two in five young consumers tell us they’re interested in anxiety-reducing products, but the difference is massive between LGBTQ+ young consumers and non-LGBTQ+ young consumers. Just over half (51%) of LGBTQ+ young consumers say they are interested in anxiety-reducing products compared to 33% of non-LGBTQ+ young consumers. While we’ve told you about the various ways brands have tapped into the anxiety products, whether through pizza-themed weighted blankets or launching beverage-focused spa kits, some brands are specifically reaching LGBTQ+ youth. When we spoke with Squishmallows co-president Jonathan Kelly, he told us that their soft, cuddly toys have helped young people cope with stress and anxiety—and because their fan base is diverse and inclusive, they have added “more non-binary characters while identifying more ways to respectfully represent the LGBTQ+ community in the Squishmallows line.”
However, fidget spinners, weighted blankets, and stuffed animals aren’t the only type of things that LGBTQ+ young people turn to for stress relief, holistic products like CBD, probiotics, or melatonin are also desired. Our research found that 42% of LGBTQ+ young consumers have tried holistic remedies compared to 31% of non-LGBTQ+ young consumers. Black and LGBTQ-owned CBD lifestyle brand Unoia launched recently to reach customers from all backgrounds, but they especially wanted to reach POC and LGBTQ+ customers. Co-founder Danielle Gray told Healthline that she felt “responsible for making it [their] mission to talk about mental wellness.” While the brand sells CBD, they also offer printed materials that cover topics on CBD and lean heavily on social media to connect and check-in with their followers (which they refer to as their “community of beautiful thinkers.”) They also offer a live series on Instagram that teaches viewers how to integrate CBD into their lives. Overall, more brands are starting to support LGBTQ+ youth year-round by making products like this their focus.