Trans Youth Health Survey Results, by Scott Williams
Recently, the University of British Columbia School of Nursing published the results of The Canadian Trans Youth Health Survey. This is a unique survey in Canada and you can read the full report here. The study compares trans youth in the rest of Canada. Like the study, we are using the word “trans” here “to describe youth whose gender identity and sex assigned at birth, differ. While we acknowledge that this umbrella term does not fit for everyone, our intention is to be as inclusive as possible.”
Key to our work here in the OK2BME program at KW Counselling Services, is the data on the mental health of trans youth. The report shows that “Fewer than half of trans youth rated their overall mental health as excellent or good.” As one might expect, this translates to lower self esteem and emotional well-being amongst those surveyed. For example, only 18% of trans youth in Ontario said they felt happy “most of the time” during the past 30 days. 27% said they felt happy “a little of the time” and 15% said they felt sad “all of the time”. 51% of trans youth in Ontario said they felt under strain, stress, or pressure “Extremely so, to the point I couldn’t do my work or deal with things” during the last 30 days.
Statistics like this are exactly why the OK2BME program is so important. We provide free counselling to trans youth. Focusing on the youth’s own strengths, our counsellors can help with a wide variety of issues including personal or job stress, relationship issues, alcohol and drug use, anger management, financial issues, trauma, depression and anxiety, grief and loss, intimate partner violence, and many more. Our OK2BME counsellors have lived experience as LGBTQ+ people or are strong allies.
The study also found that “Within the last 12 months, 69% of younger youth had seriously considered suicide, 35% had attempted suicide at least once, and nearly 8% had attempted suicide 4 or more times.” If you are reading this and are in distress, please know that you are not alone. We are here to help.
If you’re not sure if counselling will help you can try it out by coming to our Walk In Counselling Clinic. The Walk In Counselling Clinic is open every Thursday from 12-6pm. You can drop by any time between those hours. You’ll first meet with one of our intake workers for 10-15 minutes. They will collect your information and then match you with one of our counsellors for a 90-minute session. If you are interested in ongoing counselling, you can either speak with one of our intake workers on the phone (519.884.0000 x222) or you can complete our online intake form. We’ll then match you with a counsellor and schedule appointments for you to see them.
If you’re not interested in counselling but would like to meet some other trans youth, please consider dropping by our bi-weekly OK2BME Youth Group. You don’t have to sign up, you can just show up! The group runs on alternating Tuesday evenings here at KW Counselling Services. You can check our Facebook events or our online calendar to see the upcoming topics and activities.
If you’re a parent of a trans youth, looking for guidance or information you can check out the resources section of our website or join us at our upcoming parenting workshop, Raising Your LGBTQ+ Child/Teen. The next workshop will take place on December 2, 2017. You can register by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org
The report points out that there are signs of hope. “Many of the young people who participated in the survey provided thoughtful and inspiring comments about how they have navigated the complexities of gender, and the improvement in their lives when their identity has been recognized and affirmed. Some of them shared personal strengths and supportive relationships, and many noted helpful professionals. When young people felt cared about, they reported much lower levels of distress and better health. Trans youth, like all youth, need the support and care of family, friends, school staff, and other professionals, to reach their full potential as healthy adults.”
As we like to say at KW Counselling Services, change is always possible.