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Lady Gaga's Foundation Releases New Research On Youth Mental Health In Las Vegas

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Survey from two-year comparison of Las Vegas-area youth reveals how they view mental health as a priority, but cite cost as the greatest obstacle to finding support.

Lady Gaga's Foundation Releases New Research On Youth Mental Health In Las Vegas

In a two-year comparison of Las Vegas area youth, findings show mental health remains a priority for most young people, yet cost has become the greatest barrier to accessing mental health resources, and fewer young people say they have access to deal with challenges such as bullying (64%), online harassment (56%), sexual harassment (54%), or suicidal ideation (45%), according to a new survey released today by Lady Gaga's Born This Way Foundation.

The online study of more than 300 13-24 year olds, conducted in partnership with Benenson Strategy Group, explored the state of youth mental health in the Las Vegas metropolitan area, highlighting changes in the prioritization of mental health, access to coping resources, and the preferences of who they confide in when dealing with a crisis. The report also includes a directory of actions, resources, and local organizations young people in the Las Vegas area can turn to for support.

Highlights include:

  1. The top mental health need for youth in Las Vegas is receiving affordable support.
  2. 80% of youth are comfortable taking classes that teach skills to support mental wellness.
  3. 85% of the young people surveyed say their mental health is a priority, but almost one-third feel they rarely or never have access to resources to deal with bullying, a 12% increase from 2019 survey, nor do they have resources to deal with suicide (45%), sexual harassment (54%) or online harassment (56%).
  4. Youth are feeling more "anxious" (60%) than in past years, and they turn to each other for support with 71% relying on peers and friends rather than family or mental health professionals when faced with challenges, highlighting the importance of equipping young people with peer support skills and resources.
  5. Nearly half of all respondents and 63% of LGBTQ+ respondents reported they rarely or never have conversations about mental health.
  6. 46% of young people knew someone who attempted or died by suicide, compared to 37% who knew someone who died of COVID-19. A majority of Black (62%) and LGBTQ+ youth (52%) knew more people in their community who attempted or died of suicide last year than of COVID-19 (39% and 43% respectively).

"This data is symbolic of what is happening in our communities throughout the country and while more youth are prioritizing their mental health, our research emphasizes how crucial it is to do more to assist young people and meet them with the necessary tools and resources to support their mental health," said Cynthia Germanotta, President and Co-Founder of Born This Way Foundation. "Our work at the Foundation is inspired and directly informed by young people's perspectives, and these findings reaffirm the need to meet youth where they are with actionable, accessible solutions.

Germanotta adds, "We're proud to work with local partners and organizations to support the urgent needs of youth in Las Vegas. We also present this research and a closing appendix with a list of organizations, resources, and actions young people in the Las Vegas area can turn to for mental health support."

"The city of Las Vegas is grateful for the research conducted on youth mental health in Las Vegas by Born This Way Foundation. This analysis is imperative as we seek resources and make decisions that lead to impactful programming," said Jordan Moore, Management Analyst II at the Department of Youth Development and Social Innovation, city of Las Vegas. "The City will widely share this follow-up study's results with our entire community in hopes of raising awareness and connecting citizens to mental health services. Using data to address the mental health crisis will remain a priority for the city of Las Vegas."

Co-founded by Lady Gaga and her mother Cynthia Germanotta, the Born This Way Foundation's mission is to support youth mental health and work with young people to build a kinder and braver world. For further findings and methodology, please find the full report HERE, and read below for key findings.

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Summary of Key Findings

Mental Health Behavior of Las Vegas Youth

While an overwhelming majority of Las Vegas youth say their mental health is a priority, and with access to resources being one of the main barriers, young people report turning to their friends when it comes to discussing mental health. A reliance on peer support highlights the importance of equipping young people with mental health tools - both for themselves and to provide to one another - as they continue to lean on friends in difficult situations.

  • Of those who discuss their mental health, respondents stated that the main reason is to get things off their chest, feel better, and because mental health is too important to ignore.
  • Notably, when faced with situations such as assault, self harm or substance abuse, many young people consider turning to a professional for support.

In spite of the harsh restrictions imposed over the last year and difficult realities of everyday life, 76% of Las Vegas youth say they spend at least several hours a week helping those around them.

  • Nearly 60 percent cite serving their communities because it makes them feel good, in addition to learning new skills (43%) or helping them when down (41%).

Accessibility of Mental Health Resources

Despite wanting to prioritize their mental health, almost one-third of young people say they never or rarely have access to mental health resources. Alarmingly, more than half said that they definitely or probably would not have the resources to deal with suicidal urges, self harm, physical bullying, sexual assault, and more - this is dangerous for at risk young people.

  • For those who say they don't have access to these resources all of the time, the highest identified reason was that they couldn't afford the cost (34%), followed by not knowing where to go (29%) and lack of support from elected officials (25%).

Within the last year Las Vegas youth have expressed increased inaccessibility to resources they need to deal with feelings of depression, anger and violence. While they are interested in seeking out help, they're unsure if they are able to access meaningful assistance.

  • The perception of availability has decreased significantly. Since 2019, there's been a 13-point drop in the number of school aged young people saying they have access to guidance counselors or school-specific resources.

Yet, while young people have had a tough time given the past year's many events, they are resilient. While only one-third utilize remote resources, there is a growing appetite to try resources when they're available.

  • Almost 30% believe they have access to video chat counseling services, in comparison to 21% in 2019.
  • Young people who are employed have more than doubled access to workplace resources (48%, up 28% from 2019).

The Types of Mental Health Resources Young People Prefer

Despite the lack of perceived accessibility, many young people are growing more comfortable using mental health resources when they are available to them, both in-person and online, to help foster better wellness. 75% of respondents were enthusiastic about proactive resources, and there is a steep increase in resources offered to both university age and employed youth. In contrast, school-aged youth are less comfortable with their school resources.

  • 86% of young people are comfortable using campus mental health resources, a 12% increase from 2019.
  • 80% would feel comfortable taking classes that teach skills to support mental wellness. This is encouraging as it shows that if the community provided these resources, young people would use them. However, they want more affordable options or financial assistance to make current options accessible. In-person mental health resources are also the preference.

In both school and work, coping skills are more important than ever before, and young people are becoming more comfortable with using resources to support their mental health.

  • Nearly 90% of youth want to learn skills and tools to deal with school stress, in comparison to everyday life (83%), family life (80%), romance (77%) and work (71%).
  • Despite the shift to online during the pandemic, almost 40% say they want in-person interaction once it is over, highlighting an interest for human connection.

The State of LGBTQ+ Youth Mental Health

LGBTQ+ youth are more likely to experience mental health challenges in 2021 than their non-LGBTQ+ counterparts, but there is reason for hope - LGBTQ+ youth are reporting higher rates of good to excellent mental health than in 2019. Yet, this is still below their non-LGBTQ+ peers.

  • More than 60% of LGBTQ+ youth, a 20% increase from 2019, rarely or never discuss their mental health, but if they do, are nearly twice as likely than their counterparts to discuss their mental health with professionals such as therapists or over phone and text.
  • While LGBTQ+ youth seek help from their families when it comes to bullying and safety, in comparison to non-LGBTQ+ individuals, they turn more instead to friends to discuss assault, depression and substance abuse

LGBTQ+ young people in Las Vegas are experiencing kindness more and, while they grapple with difficulties, they are feeling more loved (49%), energized (36%) and social (39%), nearly 10% more than before.

While more LGBTQ+ youth are aware of mental health resources, they are far less comfortable accessing them.

  • LGBTQ+ respondents are increasingly saying that there are definitely mental health resources at LGBTQ+ centers (41% in 2021, a 19% increase), however 6 in 10 still say that they are very uncomfortable using these resources.

Mental Health Experiences Amidst COVID-19

Because of their pandemic experiences, more than half of Las Vegas youth (52%) have stated that their mental health is now more of a priority. Nearly a quarter (23%) felt alone or isolated. Just as damaging as the pandemic has been, so has the mental health crisis that Las Vegas young people have experienced.

  • Almost 50% (46%) knew someone who attempted or died or suicide, compared to 37% who knew someone who died of COVID-19. Nearly 4 in 10 young people in Las Vegas know someone who has died of COVID-19.
  • A majority of black (62%) and LGBTQ+ youth (52%) knew more people in their community who attempted or died of suicide last year than of COVID-19 (39% and 43% respectively).
  • 49% of 18-24-year-olds know someone who has either attempted or died of suicide in the past year.

While overall young people (55%) say their access to mental health resources improved during the pandemic, access varies greatly between groups according to age, race, and sexual orientation.

  • A majority of 13-17-year-olds (52%) and LGBTQ+ youth (51%) state that their access worsened throughout the pandemic.

Even though COVID-19 presented unprecedented challenges and not all experiences were the same, more than 60 percent of Las Vegas youth don't feel like they can discuss their experiences because of the perception that no matter what they've gone through, someone else had it worse.

  • 67% of 13-17 year-olds agreed with this sentiment, while a startling 70% of LGBTQ+ youth felt this way.

Finally, the environment for work or learning caused varying stress levels and differed greatly by setting, either remote or in-person, with 55% saying they were more stressed overall.

  • 58% of youth employed find remote work less stressful than in-person, compared to 32% of school students.

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