Rainbow Youth Health Forum


Source: Mental Health Commission of Canada

Creating Safer Spaces for 2SLGBTQ+ Emerging Adults in Health Care

Building on the MHCC's Youth Strategy, the forum provided a platform for Two-Spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and queer (2SLGBTQ+) emerging adults to amplify their voices about their experiences in the health care system. 

2SLGBTQ+ emerging adults face particular challenges that put their mental health at greater risk, including significant barriers to health-care access. Across Canada, 2SLGBTQ+ individuals, allies, communities, organizations, and health-care professionals are addressing these issues through programs, services, and research. Young people play an important role in identifying the problems and solutions. Youth know the pathways to their own wellness and life enhancement. They lead programs in their communities that support other young people. They provide important peer support, both formal and informal. They are advocates for themselves and their communities.

Participants at the forum travelled to Ottawa from across Canada to share initiatives and approaches to increasing health-sector access and improving the service-user experience for 2SLGBTQ+ emerging adults. The discussions focused on youth-led initiatives and perspectives to make an emerging adult’s experience safer and more inclusive. The forum provided participants with an opportunity to share best and promising practices for improving services to those affected by gaps and barriers in accessing health care.

The following themes emerged across participant perspectives, helping to inform four overall recommendations for long-term action: 

Raise awareness on the importance of safer spaces in health-care settings for 2SLGBTQ+ emerging adults.

Prioritize intersectionality by ensuring that strategies are rooted in anti-oppressive and anti-racist frameworks that meet the unique needs of all 2SLGBTQ+ communities

Build momentum to share promising practices across the health-care and 2SLGBTQ+ serving sectors.

Effect change through actionable strategies that impact knowledge, skills, and behaviours of service providers, policy makers, and other decision makers.

Visit the Mental Health Commission of Canada to learn more about what you can do to help create safer, more inclusive spaces for young 2SLGBTQ+ folks that you serve in your organization.