Violence against LGBT youths still abound, with a third of adolescents still suffering discrimination, harassment and assault. A study says that these can lead to mental health problems like major depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

The ones who have the highest risk for developing mental health problems are LGBT youths who have experienced increasing moderate harassment such as having an object thrown at them or adolescents who are victimised constantly, such as victims of sexual or physical assault in a span of four years. While 84.6 percent of the 248 LGBT youths observed have suffered less attacks over four years, despite Dan Savage’s “It Gets Better” campaign, 10.3 percent were bullied even more and 5.1 percent remained to be bullied excessively.

The study, published in the American Journal of Public Health on Jan. 21, looked at how severe victimisations of teens are and how these changed in time. This states that depression and PTSD worsened when victimisations increased. Even those who received less severe bullying were still prone to develop these mental health problems.

Wikimedia/Dan SavageDoric Donell | Australia Network News

Wikimedia/Dan Savage

This involved assessing the teens’ mental health through interviews over the course of four years. Unlike the boys, girls were more likely to be victimised less over time. Moreover, boys suffer more physical and verbal assault more than girls.

“We tend to think that society is evolving but we can’t just accept this narrative that ‘it gets better’ and think it gets better for everyone,” Brian Mustanski, associate professor in medical social sciences at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and director of the new Northwestern Institute for Sexual and Gender Minority Health and Wellbeing, says in a statement. “With bullying, I think people often assume ‘that’s just kids teasing kids,’ and that’s not true … these are criminal offences.”

Over 613,000 people have pledged to fight bullying against LGBT teens since 2010. In spite of this huge support, the researchers suggest that schools create policies and programmes to reinforce the campaign against LBGT bullying.