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Youth Mental Health in Las Vegas: Understanding Resource Availability and Preferences

From December 12, 2018 to January 3, 2019, Born This Way Foundation commissioned a study from Benenson Strategy Group surveying over 400 young people ages 13 to 24 in the Las Vegas area. We explored how they view their own mental wellness and how they think about and access key mental health services in the city.

The survey is released as Born This Way Foundation launches programming in Las Vegas and a popup activation at Park MGM, inside Park Theater where founder Lady Gaga will perform during her residency in the city. The popup, which will be open during each of Lady Gaga’s shows at the theater, will be one facet of the Foundation’s presence in Las Vegas which over the coming months will also include work in schools and throughout the community, working closely with local nonprofits and youth themselves.

Some of our key findings include:

  • Only half of high school-age youth and just a third of college-age youth rate their own mental health highly (describing it as an eight or higher on a ten-point scale), and significant portions of youth report feeling anxious (46%) or helpless or sad (41%) for “a good bit of time” or more in the past month.
  • Nearly nine in ten Las Vegas youth see mental health as a priority but half say they rarely or never talk about it. Those who do report discussing the topic are significantly more likely to turn to a friend (65%) rather than a parent/guardian (48%) or mental health professional (15%).
  • More than one in four youth say that young people in Las Vegas rarely or never have access to the resources they need to support their mental wellness or address a mental health issue. Additionally, youth are largely uncertain if they would have the resources needed to deal with many serious but common issues. For example, only about half of youth say they would “definitely” or “probably” have the resources to address feeling suicidal, if they felt like harming themselves, or if they felt unsafe at home, school, or online.
  • Young people in Las Vegas are open to using a wide variety of resources and they want to learn skills to support their mental wellness. Encouragingly, most (83%) say they are interested in learning coping skills and tools to deal with the stresses of everyday life and over 60% are enthusiastic about proactive resources such as mental health first aid courses or general mental wellness classes, reflecting a commitment to equipping themselves with the skills they need to help support positive mental health in themselves and within their communities.

Additionally, the survey reveals LGBTQ+ youth in Las Vegas are particularly vulnerable:

  • LGBTQ+ youth are less likely than their non-LGBTQ peers to rate their mental health highly and are much more likely to report feeling helpless or sad, anxious, or fearful. Just 16% of LGBTQ+ youth gave their mental health an eight or higher on a ten-point scale, compared to 44% of non-LGBTQ+ youth. At the same time, LGBTQ+ youth are much more likely to say they felt helpless or sad (36% to 22%), anxious (33% to 25%), or fearful (28% to 13%) “a good bit of the time” or more in the past month and are much less likely to say they felt close to the people in their lives (40% to 60%), loved (45% to 59%), optimistic (27% to 40%), or useful (22% to 45%).
  • Despite the greater proportion of LGBTQ+ youth who are struggling, they’re less likely to say that key mental health resources are available, with 38% of LGBTQ+ youth reporting that resources are “rarely” or “never” available to young people like them compared to 28% of non-LGBTQ+ youth.
  • LGBTQ+ young people also have different preferences for mental health resources and for who they turn to when they need to talk. Compared to their non-LGBTQ+ peers, LGBTQ+ young people in Las Vegas are more drawn to resources that let them connect with others remotely, with just 32% saying they would be comfortable using an in-person resource compared to 47% of non-LGBTQ+ youth. And while they report discussing mental health at about the same rates, LGBTQ+ youth are also much less likely to talk about it with a parent/guardian (32% to 53%).

You can read the full report below.

Download the B&W Version of the California Youth Mental Health: Understanding Resource Availability and Preferences (PDF)