Most LGBTI+ youth struggling with mental health

COVID-19 has exacerbated problems
  • Deborah Condon

The vast majority of LGBTI+ youth are struggling with anxiety, stress or depression during the COVID-19 pandemic, a new national survey has found.

According to the findings, 93% of LGBTI+ youth are struggling with their mental health compared to 53% of their non-LGBTI+ peers.

The survey was conducted by BeLonG To Youth Services, the national organisation that supports lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex youth in Ireland.

Almost 300 young people aged between 14 and 23 took part in the survey. The findings show that during the COVID-19 pandemic, 55% of LGBTI+ youth have struggled with suicidal ideation, while 45% have struggled with self-harming.

Some 42% said that they are not fully accepted in their homes due to their sexual orientation or gender identity, while 53% said their home environment is not a good place to be during the COVID-19 restrictions.

Some of the anonymous responses given to the survey included:
-"Sometimes I think being dead is better than having to deal with online school, criticism from the person I live with, and fear of the virus"
- "I have not made any attempts at my life while in isolation, but it has worried me how much these thoughts have reappeared. It had been over a year since I last had this level of depression and it is hard to feel like things have gone backwards"
- "I feel like I have to sit and dwell on my thoughts a lot more and it gets to me a lot sometimes. My mental health has plummeted during lockdown".

Commenting on the results of the survey, BeLonG To Youth Services CEO, Moninne Griffith, said that the organisation is afraid that the huge mental health impact COVID-19 has had on the lives of LGBTI+ youth "will live long beyond the virus".

"Many LGBTI+ young people experience ongoing mental health challenges and as the results of our survey show, these have been exacerbated by COVID-19.

"LGBTI+ young people do not stop experiencing crises during pandemics. Many feel isolated from their support networks who love and accept them for who they are. Some are experiencing emotional and physical abuse. They feel alone, scared and anxious," Ms Griffith explained.

She said that now, more than ever, LGBTI+ youth need access to a wide range of supports.

"We have rapidly responded to meet the needs of LGBTI+ young people during COVID-19 through the provision of digital youth work, online youth groups and online training for the youth work and education sector.

"Through this work, we are letting LGBTI+ young people across Ireland know that there is a safe space for them to come together, to be who they are and to receive support. But we cannot do this alone. We need continued funding and support for the LGBTI+ youth sector to combat these serious mental health challenges," Ms Griffith added.

The LGBTI+ Lives in Lockdown survey was conducted online from May 1-10 and included people from every county in Ireland.

For more information on BeLonG To, click here.

 


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