Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender teenagers are some of the most vulnerable of people in the United States today. They face discrimination and harassment from a variety of different sources: bullying and harassment in schools, rejection at home, and condemnation from media and religious organizations. A fear of persecution encourages many LGBT teens to keep their real identities hidden.
Living with the stress of a marginalized identity has clear and negative effects on the mental health of LGBT youth. They are consistently reported as having higher rates of depression and anxiety than their non-LGBT peers. Even more troubling, studies have demonstrated that these young adults are more likely than non-LGBT teenagers to engage in self-harm, have suicidal thoughts, and attempt suicide.
Providing LGBT adolescents with access to mental health services is essential to helping them cope with the extreme pressures that have led many of them to consider suicide. Numerous studies have already demonstrated the benefits of mental health treatment for people suffering from depression and other mood disorders. Mental health counseling and therapy have a high probability of improving the mental health and wellbeing of teens, even when unaccompanied by medication.
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