1Center or American Progress | Providing a Lieline or LGBT Youth
Providing a Lifeline for LGBT Youth
Mental Health Services and the Age of Consent
Carlos Maza December 2010
Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and ransgender eenagers are some o he mos vulnerableo people in he Unied Saes oday. Tey ace discriminaion and harassmenrom a variey o dieren sources: bullying and harassmen in schools, rejeciona home, and condemnaion rom media and religious organizaions. A ear o persecuion encourages many LGB eens o keep heir real ideniies hidden.Living wih he sress o a marginalized ideniy has clear and negaive eecs onhe menal healh o LGB youh. Tey are consisenly repored as having higherraes o depression and anxiey han heir non-LGB peers.
Even more roubling,sudies have demonsraed ha hese young aduls are more likely han non-LGBeenagers o engage in sel-harm, have suicidal houghs, and atemp suicide.
Providing LGB adolescens wih access o menal healh services is essenial ohelping hem cope wih he exreme pressures ha have led many o hem o con-sider suicide. Numerous sudies have already demonsraed he benes o menalhealh reamen or people suering rom depression and oher mood disorders.Menal healh counseling and herapy have a high probabiliy o improving hemenal healh and wellbeing o eens, even when unaccompanied by medicaion.
State age-of-consent laws
A majoriy o saes require minors o obain consen rom a paren or guardian beore receiving oupaien menal healh reamen. Tis requiremen oo ofenorces LGB adolescens ino a painul cach-22—hey mus choose o eiherorgo criically needed proessional help or seek reamen while risking revealingheir LGB saus o heir amilies premaurely and wihou a suppor nework, which can signicanly aggravae exising menal healh problems.