Mental health services aimed at LGBTQ+ youth scarce

Most U.S. facilities that offer mental health care for youth lack services specific to LGBTQ+ patients, a new study finds.

Of more than 8,000 public and private health facilities in the United States that offered youth mental health services in 2020, only 28% had programs that were designed for LGBTQ+ users, according to the study, published June 5 in JAMA Pediatrics. 

Facilities that offered LGBTQ-specific services for youth were more common in coastal states and less common in rural areas, the UCLA researchers found. For-profit facilities were more likely to offer the services than nonprofits. Public mental health facilities were also less likely to offer LGBTQ-specific care, which the researchers said was concerning, given the costs of treatment and low incomes of people who receive care at public facilities.

Previous research has found that LGBTQ+ youth who seek mental health treatment face barriers to access, such as negative experiences with health providers who don’t understand their needs.

Nighttime deaths surge during warmer temperatures

As nights get hotter from climate change, deaths can be expected to increase, new research predicts.

A study published in May in Environmental Health Perspectives found that deaths in Japan increased 10% on hot nights, particularly when the warmer temperatures occurred in early summer. Deaths on high-temperature nights increased immediately and continued for two weeks afterward. People who died of cardiovascular disease tended to do so during or soon after a hot night, while people who died from heat-related asthma and renal disease tended to die days later.

As the world’s climate continues to warm, hot nights are becoming more common, growing at a faster rate than hot days. While high heat during the day poses risks to health, hot nights are a problem because people may not be able to adequately recover from daytime heat, researchers said. 

The risk of death on a hot night was highest for elderly adults, the researchers found. They suggested that behavior may play a role, as seniors are often less likely to hydrate before they go to sleep or use air conditioning at night. 

Where people live can also be a factor: Death risks were higher in northern Japan, where hot nights are less common, and lower in southern Japan, where hot nights are more frequent. People who live in areas with frequent higher temperatures may be more adaptable to heat, researchers suggested.

Civil rights group declares ‘state of emergency’ for LGBTQ+ Americans

The unprecedented onslaught of laws aimed at restricting the rights of LGBTQ+ Americans is endangering lives, according to the Human Rights Campaign, which declared a national “state of emergency” on June 6.

In 2023 alone, more than 75 anti-LGBTQ+ measures were signed into law, double the number passed in 2022, the civil-rights organization said. The laws cover issues such as bathroom use, school sports and, most critically, access to medical care.

Overall, more than 525 anti-LGBTQ bills have been introduced in 41 states in 2023, with about half specifically targeting transgender people, the campaign said. Twenty states have banned youth access to gender-affirming care, such as hormone therapy or puberty blockers, though laws in some states also impact adults. 

A day after the emergency declaration, Missouri Gov. Mike Parson signed into law two bills that restrict school sports participation for transgender students and gender-affirming medical care for transgender youth. As one of the laws bars the treatment for people covered by the state’s Medicaid program and for incarcerated people, adults are also affected.

To help LGBTQ+ people navigate the growing laws, the Human Rights Campaign released a guide to measures in each state.

Chemicals can harm bone development

Endocrine-disrupting chemicals found in everyday products can harm bone growth in humans, according to a new study. 

Published in May in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences, the research found that endocrine-disrupting chemicals used in products such as flame retardants, pesticides and detergents are linked to skeletal diseases and disorders. Endocrine-disrupting chemicals are defined as those that interfere with bodily systems such as growth, metabolism and reproduction. 

The study looked at research on chemicals such as bisphenol A, DDT, and perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, also known as PFAS, finding they can alter the way human hormones function. As hormones play an important role in bone formation, interference from environmental factors such as chemicals can lead to life-long bone defects.

Disorders such as brittle-bone disease, hip dysplasia and spine deformities are a public health problem worldwide. Clubfoot, a bone and muscle disorder in which a baby’s foot is twisted out of position, occurs in one out of every 593 births, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

Mental health care lags for children who are shot

People who are shot can suffer mental health harms, particularly if they are young. But most children who experience a gun-related injury don’t receive quick access to mental health services afterward, a new study finds. 

Published June 5 in Pediatrics, the research found that more than 60% of children don’t receive mental health services within six months after a gun-related injury, despite known risks for mental trauma. 

Previous interaction with the mental health system influenced the likelihood of receiving care: Children who had accessed mental health services before they were shot were more likely to receive help afterward, compared to those who had not previously received services. About 37% of injured kids who had not previously used mental health services received them within a month of being shot, while 65% kids with previous mental health treatment received them within a month of a gunshot.

Almost 11,300 non-fatal, gun-related injuries are reported in U.S. children annually. Common mental health issues in children who experience a gunshot include substance use and disruptive behavior such as hostility or defiance.

The Watch is written by Michele Late, who has more than two decades of experience as a public-health journalist.