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05-25 Self-Discovery Month: Engagement with LGBT-focused organizations helps teens cope with stress

Self-Discovery Month: Engagement with LGBT-focused organizations helps teens cope with stress

Not all believe in the concept of equality and this is evident from the degree of discrimination faced by people of different sexual orientation at various points of life. Coping with the issue of gender identity may not be an easy task, especially for adolescents who have to cope with minor stresses resulting from issues concerning sexual orientation.

Keeping these points in mind, it is important to understand that awareness of self not only helps in expressing one’s emotions clearly, but also allows one to utilize them to achieve the desired goal. Emphasizing on the importance of self-awareness, the United States observes the “Self-Discovery Month” every year in May.

Examining coping strategies by LGBT youth

A group of researchers recently tried to examine how adolescents manage to deal effectively with issues concerning sexual minority and the impact of harm caused by alternative coping strategies. As part of the study, titled “Coping with Sexual Orientation-Related Minority Stress,” the researchers observed 245 lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) young adults, aged 21-25 years, to find out how they had managed to fend for themselves during their adolescence. The method used in the study, published in the Journal of Homosexuality in April 2017, allowed the researchers to examine the validity and reliability of the extent of minority stress coping. The details of the study were collected and collated from the Family Acceptance Project, a research, education and intervention initiative that disallows any kind of potential risk to LGBT children and youth.

The researchers observed three common kinds of minority stress coping strategies, including LGB-specific plans, unconventional seeking methods and cognitive approaches. The first kind of strategy included participation with LGBT organizations, the second consisted of finding new friends and the third involved anticipating a better future. Involvement with LGBT organizations included being a part of LGBT-focused groups or being engaged in activities particular to the community.

The researchers observed that those partaking in LGBT-specific programs exhibited signs of better psychosocial adjustment coupled with increased likelihood of young adults being high school graduates. The other methods, including alternative and cognitive strategies, were linked to poorer adjustment, increased signs of depression and lack of self-esteem. Elucidating the observations made, lead author of the study Russell B. Toomey said, “In our study, we demonstrate for one of the first times that if youth cope with LGB-related stress by seeking out LGB spaces or information it promotes health and reduced likelihood of dropping out of high school.”

The observations made were in stark contrast to previous studies, stressing on imagining a better future can help alleviate the stress for LGBT adolescents. The findings challenged the stereotype idea of accepting negative experiences as the only effective coping method to deal with everyday stress. The findings also questioned the validity of escape-based coping strategies as practiced and promoted in some educational institutions.

Realizing the importance of support

It is common for adolescents to be constantly bullied or harassed owing to their differing sexual orientation or gender identity crisis. School administrators advise such students to be transferred to other schools to escape embarrassment and daily discomfort. Moreover, the affected children are labeled as problems as opposed to addressing the issue of gender differentiation and the idea of universalism at stake. Elaborating on the same, Toomey added, “Alternative-seeking strategies involve finding new spaces to thrive in, rather than coping with the space that you’re in, and our results find that that’s associated with more depressive symptoms, less self-esteem and less satisfaction in life.”

Clinicians at the Sovereign Health of Rancho San Diego make use of innovative measures to treat teenage mood disorders resulting from constant stress. People should approach teenage mental health facilities for a holistic recovery. For more information about the teen mental health rehabs in the U.S., call our 24/7 helpline number or chat with our online representatives.

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