Mental Health Crisis for LGBTI+ Young People as New Figures Show 97% are Struggling with Anxiety, Stress or Depression
New national survey released during Pride Month shows mental health of LGBTI+ young people has acutely deteriorated during Covid-19
Findings from a national survey conducted by BeLonG To Youth Services reveal the consequence of the pandemic for LGBTI+ young people. The research shows that 97% of LGBTI+ youth are struggling with anxiety, stress, or depression.
The pandemic poses a greater risk to marginalised and vulnerable groups, including LGBTI+ young people. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, research highlighted the mental health struggles experienced by LGBTI+ young people in Ireland. The group was twice more likely to self-harm, three times more like to experience suicide ideation, and four times more likely to experience anxiety and depression than their non-LGBTI+ friends.1 These risks have been exacerbating young LGBTI+ people during the past year.
Key findings reveal that during COVID-19:
- 63% of LGBTI+ young people are struggling with suicide ideation (2020: 55%).
- 50% of LGBTI+ young people are struggling with self-harm (2020: 45%).
- 83% of young people are feeling acute loneliness throughout the pandemic (2020: 60%).
- 58% of young people described their mental health as “bad” or “very bad” (2020: 48%).
More than half (56%) of LGBTI+ young people surveyed this year in 2021 said they were not fully accepted in their home environment. Family rejection, feeling unaccepted, and a denial of identity can result in loneliness, stress, anxiety, and more complex mental health challenges.
Anonymous responses to the LGBTI+ Life in Lockdown: One Year Later Survey include:
“I can’t see friends. I’m estranged from family so being on my own all the time has messed with my head.”
“I’ve had thoughts of self-harm almost daily for the first time in five years.”
“I have spent the entire year of this pandemic at least somewhat suicidal, to the point of very active suicidal planning at times. Eventually this resulted in me attempting to end my life.”
“‘I’ve had to stay in a deeply homophobic household 24/7. Luckily I’m not out yet but it still hurts.”
“I have found being around my family so much kind of hard. I think it has made me internalise their homophobia more. I used to be more accepting of my sexuality.”
“I don’t know enough about protection and when you should be getting sexual health check-ups as a lesbian. We only covered the topic from a heterosexual point of view when I was in school.”
Moninne Griffith (she/her), CEO of BeLonG To Youth Services says: The past 12 months have been extremely difficult for LGBTI+ young people, as clear from our research. Levels of self-harm and suicide ideation are rising as LGBTI+ young people experience unique mental health challenges. Many formal and informal safety nets, supports, and services have been unavailable because of lockdowns and increased social isolation. More than half of LGBTI+ young people surveyed told us they are not fully accepted in their home environment because of who they are or who they love. Family rejection, feeling unaccepted, and a denial of identity can result in loneliness, stress, anxiety, and more complex mental health challenges.
We need to let LGBTI+ young people know that they are not alone. We need to show LGBTI+ young people across Ireland know that there are spaces for them to come together, be who they are, and receive the support they need.
To achieve this, we are calling for the support of those passionate about ensuring LGBTI+ young people have their needs met, and their voices heard. We are sure that whatever lies ahead, the impact of Covid-19 will be with us for years to come. Our commitment is to continue to understand how this affects LGBTI+ young people, share that evidence to ensure that their needs are not forgotten, and be here for every LGBTI+ young person who needs us.”
About the LGBTI+ Life in Lockdown Survey
Conducted by BeLonG To Youth Services, LGBTI+ Life Lockdown: One Year Later survey was conducted online from April 29th-May 10th, 2021, to assess the impact of the COVID-19 restrictions on LGBTI+ youth in Ireland. To obtain a representative national sample of LGBTI+ young people, we conducted outreach through national, regional, and local organisations that provide services to or advocate for LGBTI+ youth. The survey consisted of 37 questions and was hosted on the verified survey site GetFeedback. The survey was anonymous for the safety and comfort of LGBTI+ young people.
Some 3,194 young people started the survey. A number of respondents fell outside of the inclusion criteria, and 16 responses, including homophobic and transphobic rhetoric, were removed. The final sample consisted of 2,279 LGBTI+ young people between the ages of 14 and 24 years.
We captured where individuals were living at this time via county selection which is represented via a regional breakdown: 7% of young people who completed the survey are living in Ulster, 10% in Connacht, 27% in Leinster (31% Dublin), and 24% in Munster.
Notes to editors
- BeLonG To CEO, Moninne Griffith is available for interview. To arrange an interview, please contact: Sinead Keane, Communications Manager. Mobile: 087 768 0389 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Download the LGBTI+ Life in Lockdown: One Year Later Key Findings Report here.
- BeLonG To Youth Services BeLonG To Youth Services is a national organisation supporting lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex young people. Since 2003, BeLonG To has worked with LGBTI+ young people to create a world where they are equal, safe and valued in the diversity of their identities and experiences. The organisation advocates and campaigns on behalf of young LGBTI+ people and offers a specialised LGBTI+ youth service including information, support, crisis counselling in partnership with Pieta House and the provision of LGBTI+ youth groups across Ireland.
1 Higgins A. et al. (2016) The LGBTIreland Report : national study of the mental health and wellbeing of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and
intersex people in Ireland. Dublin: GLEN and BeLonG To Youth Services.