LGBTI+ youth feeling isolated from support networks during Covid-19

Shauna Burdis

A survey by BelongTo reported high levels of LGBTI+ youth struggling with self-harm and suicide ideation. The survey titled: LGBTI+ Life in Lockdown, was carried out to understand what life is like for LGBTI+ youth during the pandemic.

According to the survey, more than half of LGBTI+ (lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender and intersex) youth have felt suicidal during the Covid-19 pandemic, with two-thirds admitting to self-harming during this time.

The survey gathered data from over 500 LGBTI+ youths across 26 counties.

The report details the impact lockdown has had on young LGBTI+ peoples mental health, with around 93 per cent feeling anxious, stressed or depressed during the pandemic.

Many LGBTI+ youth are isolated in homes that are unsupportive of their sexual orientation/ gender identity. The survey revealed that during the pandemic, 42 per cent of LGBTI+ young people said that they were “not fully accepted” in their home environment.

One participant in the survey described their experience with homophobia in their home environment: “My sister harasses me and calls me slurs to her friends. I just want quarantine to be done so I don’t have to hear her justify homophobia.”

Another stated: “They know I am gay, but we do not speak about it. They make comments without thinking and never make any effort to be accepting or ask me about my personal life.”

The survey results found that 55 per cent of LGBTI+ young people are struggling with suicidal ideation. Almost half regard their mental health as bad or very bad, and 60 per cent are experiencing loneliness.

On feeling lonely, one participant said: “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.”

The organisation is concerned that the damage caused by the pandemic on LGBTI+ young people’s mental health will last well into the future.

Chief executive of BelongTo, Moninne Griffith said that the mental health difficulties of many LGBTI+ young people had been exacerbated by the crisis and particularly the restrictions imposed to stop the virus spreading.

“We need continued funding and support for the LGBTI+ youth sector to combat these serious mental health challenges,” she said.

BelongTo Youth Services is a national organisation that supports lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex young people since 2003.

Shauna Burdis

Image Credit: Belong To