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LIFESTYLE & CULTURE

5 Ways to feel the holiday spirit

It’s that time of the year again when the holiday spirit is all around us. And I say: Why not make the most of it by enjoying it?

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Yes, it’s that time of the year again when the holiday spirit is all around us. In a country like the Philippines, it – in fact – started as early as September (when what is called the -ber months started, covering September-December) and won’t end until mid-January, when Filipinos mark the Feast of the Three Kings. So the holiday spirit is really inescapable, as malls are decked in Christmas-related decors, kids start their door-to-door caroling (for a fee), offices hold once-a-year parties (as bosses hand out annual bonuses to employees), and DJs in radio stations/TV anchors keep counting the days left before we all mark Christmas and the start of the New Year.

This is not to say that everyone is touched by the holiday spirit. Because there are some who feel the stress brought by the season instead of the joys it brings. And so for these people, partaking in the festivities isn’t necessarily easy.

Worry not, though: With the belief that this season should be enjoyed by everyone (not just kids), we have here five ways to help get you in the festive spirit.

1.  Play the right music.

There’s a running joke in the Philippines – i.e. that the moment you hear Jose Mari Chan’s Christmas in Our Hearts being played on air, it must already be Christmas. This makes Chan adored… and admittedly hated by some.

But the thing is, you don’t have to just stick to Chan’s songs because there’s more to Christmas music than Chan and, yes, jingle bells and reindeer. And many of the popularly played music for the holidays are chart-toppers.

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There’s more to Christmas music than Jose Mari Chan and, yes, jingle bells and reindeer.
Photo by Mohammad Metri from Unsplash.com

In the UK, the modern fascination with the race for the festive No. 1 started in 1973, thanks to glam rock bands Slade and Wizzard. Not surprisingly, the Christmas No. 1 has been a feature of the UK Singles Chart since 1952, after the week’s best-selling singles was first published in the New Music Express.

Here are some interesting FYIs:

  • 35% of all Christmas No. 1s are cover songs – meaning originality isn’t always the best way to go when it comes to Christmas singles, given that covers account for 23 of the 66 festive number ones
  • Four acts have ever had multiple Christmas No. 1s: The Beatles, Queen, Cliff Richard and Spice Girls
  • Just 12 out of 66 number ones are actually about Christmas; surprisingly, 33% of Christmas No. 1s are actually about love

But there are numerous holiday-related songs to enjoy.

There’s Do They Know It’s Christmas? by Band Aid (released in 1984), which has gone on to sell over three million copies – more than any other Christmas single. 

There’s Last Christmas by Wham! (released in 1984), the best-selling UK single that actually never reached number one.

Fairytale of New York by The Pogues (recorded in 1987 and released in 1988), which reached the top 20 on 15 separate occasions since losing out to Always On My Mind by the Pet Shop Boys in 1987.

And there’s Cliff Richard’s festive-themed chart-topper Saviour’s Day (released in 1990).

Incidentally, more pop songs (30 chart-toppers) than any other genre scooped Christmas number one. In fact, Ariana Grande (4/9) is the current favorite in the online betting this year. So you may want to consider other genres, too.

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Rock songs account for 11 Christmas number ones, including Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen, which took the title in 1975 and 1991 and is the UK’s third-best selling single of all time with 2.53 million sales.

Easy listening, with crooners claiming number one seven times between 1952 and 1976, the most recent of which being Johnny Mathis’ When A Child Is Born.

Choral songs, which are also chart-toppers, most recently A Bridge Over You by the Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Choir in 2015.

Or you can even consider soul (with two chart-toppers), dance (also with two chart-toppers), instrumental, folk, disco and a cappella.

The point is, if it gets you in the groove, play it/listen to it. This way, you may finally ease into the holiday mode.

2.  Deck the halls… no, make that the whole house.

Put up the Christmas tree. If you manage to get a fresh one (by ditching the plastic trees), so much the better. Because once set up, staying near that tree, sniffing that pine aroma, is certainly going to pull some strings in you and make you feel… Christmassy.

Bring out those flickering lights, hang the parol (Christmas lantern), place that wreath up, ready the poinsettias, hang the stockings…
Photo by Markus Spiske from Unsplash.com

But don’t stop there: bring out those flickering lights, hang the parol (Christmas lantern), place that wreath up, ready the poinsettias, hang the stockings…

All these help make you anticipate that something special is bound to – and will – happen.

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3.  Watch some classics.

Particularly if you’re – say – Netflix- or HOOQ-crazy or is a couch potato, opt to watch some flicks that will remind you why this season is special.

If you’re not keen on a movie that is hard-selling Christmas, there are other holiday-linked films worth considering.
Photo by Sven Scheuermeier from Unsplash.com

Off the head, must-consider include: Meet Me in St. Louis (1944); It’s a Wonderful Life (1946); Miracle on 34th Street (1947); White Christmas (1954); Home Alone (1990); The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992); The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993); and Love Actually (2003).

If you’re not keen on a movie that is hard-selling Christmas, there are other holiday-linked films worth considering, including: Gremlins (1984); Die Hard (1988); The Family Stone (2005); Edward Scissorhands (1990); and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005).

4.  Join the parties.

There’s nothing wrong with flying solo; but the holiday season is really about togetherness. So try to get out of your shell and/or comfort zone and mingle. Consider this as an opportunity to party and not be judged for being overly festive (meaning, yes, you can drink and party all you want).

The holiday season is really about togetherness.
Photo by Mel Poole from Unsplash.com

5.  Share the spirit.

There are many who may not be as fortunate as you and be unable to celebrate the holidays – e.g. forgotten seniors in old-age homes, kids in orphanages, sick kids in – say – a cancer ward in some hospital, homeless families, et cetera.

As someone who may be in a better position, give some joy by reaching out to them. Maybe – just maybe – by seeing that you’re actually in a far, far better position than many others, you’d understand that there are actually things to be thankful for this season.

As someone who may be in a better position, give some joy by reaching out to them.
Photo by David Everett Strickler from Unsplash.com

So, yes, it’s that time of the year again when the holiday spirit is all around us. And I say: Why not make the most of it by enjoying it?

LIFESTYLE & CULTURE

How can you learn to communicate with a man?

For men, it is more important to achieve a goal, a result; and for a woman, relationships with others are more essential.

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By Lily Asis

The question of how to communicate in a relationship with a man isn’t new. We want to understand ourselves and people, find out the hidden thoughts, feelings, and concerns of another person, learn to express our own desires, and suppress fears. All this is possible only when communicating, establishing direct contact with another person.

So, your communication with a man begins with the definition of positions, the choice of the role that you will play in communication. And, having defined his position, for the success in communication, it is necessary to take into account the expectations of the partner. But people often confuse “communication” and “relationships,” and these are two different concepts. Know that communication is the process of implementing or establishing certain relationships.

How often do you not know how to communicate, or simply do not take into account the benefits that can be obtained when communicating? Argue, intimidate, coerce, scold the interlocutor, forgetting to praise him. And now your relationship is not as it should be. Rudeness, sharpness, neglect – all of these things will get back at you. Undoubtedly, each person is individual, but there are, in fact, the general psychological characteristics of men. So today I want to identify some of their psychological characteristics and answer the question of how to communicate with a man who won’t communicate. And while I’m diving deep into psychology, here is an article that will answer the old question: do girls like shy guys?

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Knowing the general trends, going through his phrases, evaluating individual actions, gestures, and facial expressions, you can really predict his behavior and understand how he treats you. To know how to communicate with a man, you need to figure out what is the basis of the psychology of interpersonal contact.

First of all, this is intellectual and emotional empathy. A person gets satisfaction from communication only when two people are open to it. And empathy, in this case, plays a big role. To properly understand what a person is feeling is to know how to properly react to this and that, turning every opportunity to your advantage.

Communication is effective under the condition if it is subject to the achievement of a number of goals. Therefore, at the preliminary stage of preparation, determine for yourself what you want to achieve as a result of the conversation. Noting in advance the preferred maximum and acceptable minimum achievements, at each stage of communication.

In the first phase of the conversation, we set the following tasks:

  • Make contact with a man;
  • Create a favorable atmosphere for conversation;
  • Attract the attention of a man to the topic of conversation;
  • And as a result, arouse interest in a man;
  • And do not forget about the emotional atmosphere during a conversation, as this is the psychological basis of contact and the key to the next meetings.

Seeing the details, laying out the image into the most essential components is the prerogative of women. Women more often go into details, sometimes not realizing the picture as a whole; therefore, most often they overestimate the significance of one or another aspect in behavior and are more worried about various petty reasons. It is more important for a man to grasp the essence of the communication and act first, as his character is more suited for making the first step.

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How to communicate with your man? Always remember that the differences between men and women are indisputable and have an evolutionary rationale and instinctive nature. The main features of a man are a high level of activity, initiative, determination. For men, it is more important to achieve a goal, a result; and for a woman, relationships with others are more essential.

Interpersonal relationships are perceived by women in a different way than that of men. And intuition is better developed in women; it is based on her observation, but because of this, she misses the most important thing. A man is ready to comprehend the event in its entirety, assess the main trends, and evaluate it as a whole.

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Health & Wellness

One in five contract STI from somebody they met on a dating app

85% of 18-24 year olds have used dating apps. Unfortunately, of 2,000 respondents, 18% said they had caught an STI from someone they had met online.

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The sexual health risks for young adults are increasing through the use of dating websites and apps.

This is according to an original research by Zava, which found that 85% of 18-24 year olds have used dating apps. Unfortunately, of 2,000 respondents, 18% said they had caught an STI from someone they had met online, with chlamydia being the most common STI, with 10% of 18-24 year-olds catching the infection as a result of a meeting arranged through a dating app.

Interestingly, the rise in STIs like chlamydia and gonorrhea ought to be linked to lower levels of sexual health education; but as per Zava’s research, the opposite is true, with almost two thirds saying they feel informed about STIs.

The study also noted that young adults in rural areas are more likely to have been diagnosed with an STI as a result of their online activity than those in urban areas. Also, people who identify as gay are also more likely to have contracted an STI, with a third of young gay people testing positive for a sexually transmitted infections after meeting a partner online.

38% of people with an STI found out about the infection by noticing the symptoms, particularly for common STIs like chlamydia and gonorrhea rather than being told by the person they caught it from. Healthcare professionals suggest this could be partly due to the practice of people deleting the profiles of their previous partners, so they can’t always inform them if they are diagnosed with an infection later on.

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As an FYI: The most popular dating app among the respondents was Tinder, with 70% having used it, way ahead of Bumble (6%), Grindr (4%), Happn (2%) and Hinge (1%).

In terms of STI testing, it seems that for young people, the decision to get tested isn’t related to public service advertising. Only 5% of the general population and 12% of people who identify as gay reported that public service advertisements were their primary reason for getting tested. Overall, people who identify as gay or bisexual are more likely to get tested for STIs (34% and 33% respectively) than their straight counterparts (28%).

Commenting on the findings, Dr Kathryn Basford of Zava, said: “Both gonorrhoea and chlamydia are bacterial infections that can have serious health consequences if they remain untreated. Prevention is much better than treatment, so we advise all young adults meeting people online to use a barrier contraceptive like condoms, femidoms, or dental dams. Not only can barrier contraceptives prevent unwanted pregnancies, unlike other forms of contraception they also reduce the risk of contracting an STI.”

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Technology

How tech is shaking up the retail investing scene

Investors can check the price of stocks whenever they like, read associated stories, access balance sheets, and generally have all of the tools at their disposal to work out whether a company is a good buy. It’s fair to say that tech is shaking up the retail investing scene in more ways than one.

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Retail investors used to have to make a stark choice. Either they bought and sold equities through a broker – somebody who would buy shares in companies on their behalf – or they’d pile all their capital into a mutual fund and wait. Without the internet, investors usually had to wait for their statements in the mail before they found out about the performance of their investments. It wasn’t always good news.

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Technology has changed all that. Retail investors now have information that is nearly as good as top hedge funds. Investors can check the price of stocks whenever they like, read associated stories, access balance sheets, and generally have all of the tools at their disposal to work out whether a company is a good buy. It’s fair to say that tech is shaking up the retail investing scene in more ways than one.

Software Advisors

It was only a matter of time before somebody applied new artificial intelligence software to the retail investing scene. In the past, retail investors had to do their research if they wanted to understand how markets worked. Investing is a technical discipline, as well as an art, and an understanding of key terms is essential. But robo advisors take some of the edge off the otherwise steep learning curve. People new to finance can quickly get up to speed with all the relevant concepts and jargon. Robo advisors can give information about complicated investment plans, 401(k)s and many other things.

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Retail investors can also put their faith in machines too if they see fit. The world’s first AI-powered investment ETF launched last year. The ETF is a collection of funds managed by a computer based on all available data. The software takes data from the market to predict which firms will perform best over a 12-month horizon. So far, the software hasn’t convincingly beaten the market, but it’s early days.

Trading Apps

In the past, if you wanted to buy shares in a company, you had to physically visit your broker, give the order, and then get them to buy the shares on the open market. Things have moved on a lot since then. Thanks to smartphones, the average investor can now just fire up an app on their phone, place an order, and take ownership of shares on the same day. Apps are usually linked to major trading houses, so be careful which you choose

High-Frequency Trading Products

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The market is continually looking for new ways to create profit opportunities. A controversial method of doing this is the so-called high-frequency trading where an automated trading system makes dozens of trades per second. High-frequency trading is shaking up the retail investment scene because it is changing the strategy that regular traders should use.

Retail investors can either invest in funds that take advantage of automated, rapid trading or they can adopt a value-investing approach, ignoring all the short term fluctuations in the market. The good news is that there are now products that cater to both. Some funds use high-frequency trading, while others attempt to follow companies with value potential.

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Health & Wellness

Trans hormone therapy less risky than birth control pills, according to studies

A study suggests that hormone therapy for transgender people increases the risk of blood clots less than birth control pills and does not increase the risk of cardiovascular disease at all.

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Studies published in the Men’s Health Issue of AACC’s journal Clinical Chemistry suggest that hormone therapy for transgender people increases the risk of blood clots less than birth control pills and does not increase the risk of cardiovascular disease at all. These preliminary results could help more transgender individuals to access essential hormone therapy by increasing physician comfort with prescribing it.

Major medical associations agree that transgender individuals need to be able to express their gender in ways with which they feel comfortable and that this is the most effective treatment for psychological distress caused by incongruence between sex assigned at birth and gender.

For many transgender individuals, expressing their gender involves physically changing their body through medical steps such as taking hormone therapy.

However, transgender patients often experience difficulty getting hormone therapy prescriptions, to the point that one in four transgender women have to resort to illegally obtaining cross-sex hormones. Part of this is because existing research on transgender hormone therapy is limited and conflicting, which has led to some physicians denying patients this treatment out of concern that it could significantly increase the risk of health problems such as blood clots and cardiovascular disease.

A team of researchers led by Dina N. Greene, PhD, of the University of Washington in Seattle in the US estimated that in transgender women prescribed estrogen, blood clots only occur at a rate of 2.3 per 1,000 person-years. While this is higher than the estimated incidence rate of blood clots in the general population (1.0-1.8 per 1,000 person-years), it is less than the estimated rate in premenopausal women taking oral contraceptives (3.5 per 1,000 person-years), which means that it is an acceptable level of risk.

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In order to determine this, Greene’s team performed a systematic review of all studies that have included the incidence rate of blood clots in transgender women receiving estrogen therapy, identifying 12 that were most relevant. The researchers then used meta-analysis to combine the results of these 12 studies and calculate a risk estimate that is based on all available evidence to date.  

“Documenting the risks associated with hormone treatment may allow for prescribers to feel more comfortable with prescribing practices, allowing for better overall management of transgender people,” said Greene. “Our data support the risk of thrombotic events in transgender women taking estrogen therapy being roughly comparable to the risk of thrombotic risks associated with oral contraceptives in premenopausal women. Given the widespread use of oral contraception, this level of risk appears to be broadly accepted.”

In a second study, a team of researchers led by Guy G.R. T’Sjoen, MD, PhD, also conducted a systematic review of all studies that measured risk factors for cardiovascular disease in transgender people taking hormone therapy. The researchers identified 77 relevant studies in this area and found that the majority of them report no increase in cardiovascular disease in either transgender men or women after 10 years of hormone therapy. The studies that did indicate a higher cardiovascular disease risk for transgender women in particular mainly involved patients using ethinyl estradiol, a now obsolete estrogen agent, and are therefore no longer valid.

T’Sjoen’s team does state that their results are not conclusive due to the small sample sizes and relatively short duration of the studies in this area (and Greene’s team included a similar caveat for their work). However, it is important to look at Greene and T’Sjoen’s studies in the context of transgender research as a whole. The field only began to receive National Institutes of Health funding in 2017 and is also lagging due to the fact that transgender patients often aren’t identified in medical databases that provide data for research. In light of this, these studies are significant not only because they suggest that transgender hormone therapy is safe, but also because they underscore the need for longer-term, large scale studies involving this underserved population.

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Health & Wellness

Sexual, gender minority patients report greater comfort when SOGI’s collected via nonverbal self-report

Registrar form collection is the optimal patient-centered approach to collecting sexual orientation and gender identity information in the emergency department.

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Sexual or gender minority patients reported greater comfort and improved communication when SOGI was collected via nonverbal self-report.

This is according to “Assessment of Patient-Centered Approaches to Collect Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Information in the Emergency Department”, a study done by Adil Haider, MD, MPH; Rachel R. Adler, ScD; Eric Schneider, PhD; et al and publisher din JAMA Network Open.

For this study, the researchers wanted to identify the optimal patient-centered approach to collecting sexual orientation and gender identity information in the emergency department (ED).

So they tapped four EDs on the east coast of the US that sequentially tested two different sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) collection approaches between February 2016 and March 2017.

A total of 540 enrolled patients were analyzed; the mean age was 36.4 years and 66.5% of those who identified their gender were female.

In particular, two SOGI collection approaches were tested: nurse verbal collection during the clinical encounter vs nonverbal collection during patient registration. The ED physicians, physician assistants, nurses, and registrars received education and training on sexual or gender minority health disparities and terminology prior to and throughout the intervention period.

Multivariable ordered logistic regression was used to assess whether either SOGI collection method was associated with higher patient satisfaction with their ED experience. Eligible adults older than 18 years who identified as a sexual or gender minority (SGM) were enrolled and then matched 1 to 1 by age (aged ≥5 years) and illness severity (Emergency Severity Index score ±1) to patients who identified as heterosexual and cisgender (non-SGM), and to patients whose SOGI information was missing (blank field). Patients who identified as SGM, non-SGM, or had a blank field were invited to complete surveys about their ED visit. Data analysis was conducted from April 2017 to November 2017.

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The study found that sexual or gender minority patients had significantly better Communication Climate Assessment Toolkit scores with nonverbal registrar form collection compared with nurse verbal collection (mean [SD], 95.6 [11.9] vs 89.5 [20.5]; P = .03). No significant differences between the 2 approaches were found among non-SGM patients (mean [SD], 91.8 [18.9] vs 93.2 [13.6]; P = .59) or those with a blank field (92.7 [15.9] vs 93.6 [14.7]; P = .70). After adjusting for age, race, illness severity, and site, SGM patients had 2.57 (95% CI, 1.13-5.82) increased odds of a better Communication Climate Assessment Toolkit score category during form collection compared with verbal collection.

In a gist (and to emphasize): Registrar form collection is the optimal patient-centered approach to collecting sexual orientation and gender identity information in the emergency department.

“Our interventional study assessing two potential methods to collect SOGI in the ED found that SGM patients reported significantly higher satisfaction with their experience in the ED with registrar nonverbal collection compared with nurse verbal collection,” the researchers stated. “In other words, SGM patients preferred a standardized collection process where all patients could report SOGI along with other demographical information vs being asked by a nurse during a clinical encounter. Non-SGM patients and those without reported SOGI information were no less satisfied with form collection compared with verbal collection.”

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Health & Wellness

Non-heterosexual adolescents more vulnerable to depressive symptoms from 10 years old

Gay, lesbian, bisexual and questioning youth are more likely to experience depressive symptoms from as young as age 10 and these symptoms persist at least into their early 20s.

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Depressive symptoms are more common among sexual minority youth than heterosexual youth at age 10, develop faster during adolescence, and continue into young adulthood (even if they start to decline from age 18).

This is according to “Depression and self-harm from adolescence to young adulthood in sexual minorities compared with heterosexuals in the UK: a population-based cohort study”, an observational study that followed almost 5,000 young people from 10 to 21 years of age in the UK. Published in The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health, it was authored by Madeleine Irish, MSc; Francesca Solmi, PhD; Becky Mars, PhD; Michael King, PhD; Glyn Lewis, PhD; Rebecca M Pearson, PhD; et al.

Previous research found that annually, in the UK alone between 2001 and 2014, on average across 10- to 19-year-olds, around 37 per 10,000 girls and 12 per 10,000 boys were treated for self-harm.

The findings suggest that sexual minority youth and are four times more likely to report recent self-harm at ages 16 and 21 years than their heterosexual peers, and are at higher risk of depressive symptoms from as young as 10 years old.

“We’ve known for some time that sexual minority youth have worse mental health outcomes, and it’s quite concerning that we’ve found this trend starts as early as 10 years old, and worsens throughout adolescence,” said the study’s senior author, Lewis.

To make for a robust sample of LGBQ youth, all participants who were not exclusively heterosexual were grouped into the same ‘sexual minority’ category, including 625 people (13%) who had described themselves as homosexual, bisexual, mainly homosexual, mainly heterosexual, unsure or not attracted to either sex.

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The participants responded to questions about depressive symptoms seven times from age 10 to 21, and at 16 and 21 were asked if they had attempted to hurt themselves in the past year.

Depressive symptoms increased throughout adolescence in both groups but the increase was greater for sexual minority youth, who already were more likely to report depressive symptoms from age 10. Self-harm was more common among non-heterosexuals at both 16 and 21.

At age 18 years, the LGBQ adolescents were twice as likely to fulfil the criteria for a clinical diagnosis of depression.

Mental health outcomes were worse for each of the sexual minority groups compared to heterosexuals.

The researchers said that there may be numerous factors likely involved here.

“As these differences emerge so early, we suspect that a sense of feeling different might affect mental health before children can even articulate that difference. As they progress through adolescence, a range of stressors could be involved, such as discrimination, stigmatization, feelings of loneliness, social isolation, shame or fear or rejection, including at home or at school,” said the study’s first author, Irish.

The findings suggest that clinicians who encounter young people, whether in primary or secondary care, sexual health services, the emergency department, or as school nurses, should be mindful about sexuality in considering the wider context for depressive symptoms or self-harm.

“Clinicians should use language and questions that reflect openness about sexuality, and not assume heterosexuality, and they should be aware that a young person who identifies as not exclusively heterosexual may have struggled with mental health problems from early in development,” said co-author Pitman.

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The fact we found mental health disparities at such a young age suggests that early interventions may be useful to prevent and treat such mental health challenges, Lewis said.

“Despite changes to public perceptions and attitudes in recent years, gay, lesbian and bisexual youth remain at increased risk of long-term mental health problems – addressing this inequality should be a research, policy, clinical and public mental health priority,” Lewis ended.

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