PHOENIX – A new study shows that while school can be difficult for teens who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender, coming out while there could actually be a blessing in disguise.
The study led by the University of Arizona’s Stephen Russell, a professor of Family Studies and Human Development, found that LGBT teens who come out during adolescence have higher self-esteem and lower levels of depression as young adults than those who do not.
“Coming out is actually associated with better mental health in the long run,” Russell said.
The study surveyed LGBT adults from the ages of 21 to 25 and found that the positive mental health effects of coming out while in school were in spite of the possibility of facing bullying as a result.
“Coming out is linked to more chance of being victimized, but despite that is (also) associated with positive mental health,” he said.
Russell said the study casts doubt on whether teens should wait to come out to avoid possible harassment, when coming out and dealing with that harassment appears to lead to better mental health.
“Coming out can be risky for some kids, but in the long run understanding and expressing who you are is better for mental health,” he said.
Having a good support group of friends, family and teachers also plays an important role in the mental health of LGBT teens, Russell added.