Crisis center working to help LGBTQ+ teens with their mental health amid pandemic

BELLMORE, Long Island (WABC) -- The pandemic has been hard on everyone. Social distancing was necessary but also isolating and stressful -- especially for LGBTQ youth -- who already face unique challenges.

A crisis center on Long Island says the need for mental health services it offers is now greater than ever.

COVID continues to keep their space off limits, and while PFY -- formerly known as Pride for Youth -- offers virtual programming and counseling, participation has dropped by 70%.

"Their parents might be a thin wall away, the people who may not be their biggest supporters or the most affirming to them, might be able to hear the conversations that they're having and because of that, a lot of our young people don't feel safe engaging in services," said PFY LGBTQ Services Manager Aiden Jay Kaplan.

And being isolated and away from a supportive community takes a toll.



In a recent study on mental health, The Trevor Project found that 42% of LGBTQ young people considered attempting suicide this past year. A year that was unlike any other.

"We know that many LGBTQ young people struggle with mental health and it's not because LGBTQ people are born somehow inherently having mental health issues, it's because of the discrimination and stigma they face in society," said Amit Paley, CEO of The Trevor Project.

But Paley, who heads up The Trevor Project, says a more inclusive, affirming society can improve that.

"The more we can have people in society expressing love and support and pride for LGBTQ young people, the better their mental health is going be," Paley said.

Which is why places like PFY are so desperate to reopen.

"Our clients are seeking services, they want to come back through the doors," Kaplan said.

And he hopes to open those doors very soon.

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