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New research report highlights stark deterioration in mental health of LGBTQI+ people since 2016 

-New report on mental health of LGBTQI+ people since 2016 published today by Trinity College Dublin and Belong To- 

Ireland’s young LGBTQI+ population are experiencing significant mental health challenges, according to a new report conducted by a team of researchers in Trinity College Dublin and published today (25.04.2024) in association with Belong To – LGBTQ+ Youth Ireland. According to the report, 72% of LGBTQI+ young people – aged 14 to 18 –have self-harmed, as have 75% of the transgender and gender non-conforming communities.  

In 2016, the first ever comprehensive report on the mental health of Ireland’s LGBTQI+ community as well as attitudes of the general public towards LGBTI+ people was conducted by Trinity College Dublin and published in association with Belong To and GLEN. That report, ‘LGBTIreland’ was based on research conducted by a team at Trinity. Now, eight years on, the new report – ‘Being LGBTQI+ in Ireland’ – involving over 2,800 LGBTQI+ people, builds on the findings from that initial report and includes a comparative analysis. 

Key findings from the new study indicate that mental health and wellbeing have declined amongst the LGBTQI+ population since 2016, with significant challenges experienced by younger age groups and the transgender and gender non-conforming communities.  

Amongst the 631 14- to18-year-olds who participated in the study:  

  • 50% experienced severe/extremely severe symptoms of depression 
  • 66% experienced severe/extremely severe symptoms of anxiety 
  • 41% experienced severe/extremely severe symptoms of stress  
  • 59% had a possible eating disorder
  • 72% had self-harmed  
  • 77% reported suicidal thoughts
  • 33% had made a suicide attempt 

Compared to adolescents (12-19 years) in the My World Survey 2*, a national study of youth mental health conducted in 2019 by mental health charity Jigsaw and UCD, LGBTQI+ young people aged14 – 18 in this study had: 

  • 3 times the level of severe or extremely severe symptoms of depression and anxiety
  • 3 times the level of self-harm
  • 2 times the level of suicidal thoughts
  • 5 times the level of suicide attempts

Of the 560 19- to 25-year-olds who participated, the figures decreased slightly compared to the figures for the 14– to 18-year-olds on almost each mental health measure:  

  • 35% experienced severe/extremely severe symptoms of depression 
  • 47% experienced severe/extremely severe symptoms of anxiety  
  • 29% experienced severe/extremely severe symptoms of stress  
  • 47% had a possible eating disorder 
  • 65% had self-harmed   
  • 75% reported suicidal thoughts 
  • 33% had made a suicide attempt

In comparison to cisgender participants, mental health challenges were highest amongst the transgender and gender non-conforming community:  

  • 44% experienced severe/extremely severe symptoms of depression
  • 55% experienced severe/extremely severe symptoms of anxiety 
  • 35% experienced severe/extremely severe symptoms of stress
  • 50% had a possible eating disorder 
  • 75% had self-harmed 
  • 82% reported suicidal thoughts 
  • 39% had made a suicide attempt

Although the study found a positive change in public attitudes towards LGB people since 2016, the public surveyed had less favourable attitudes towards the transgender and intersex communities. People who reported more knowledge and more frequent interaction with transgender and intersex people were significantly more likely to have positive attitudes.  

Increase in mental health challenges amongst the LGBTI+ population since 2016 

Amongst the total LGBTI+ population, within the study the new report also shows: 

  • 27% experienced severe/ extremely severe symptoms of depression  
  • 34% experienced severe/ extremely severe symptoms of anxiety  
  • 23% experienced severe/ extremely severe symptoms stress  
  • 52% had self-harmed 
  • 64% reported suicidal thoughts 
  • 26% had made a suicide attempt 

Significantly, since the 2016 LGBTIreland study there has been a: 

  • 17% increase in symptoms of severe/extremely severe symptoms of depression
  • 30% increase in symptoms of severe/extremely severe symptoms of anxiety  
  • 33% increase in symptoms of severe/extremely severe symptoms of stress

In response to the mental health challenges facing them, 60% of participants had sought professional help for a mental health problem in the past five years.  

LGBTQI+ community groups critical to supporting positive mental health   

Despite these figures, the report demonstrated the important and critical role LGBTQI+ community groups and support networks (family, friends, peers, work colleagues) play in supporting positive mental health amongst the community.  

84% of participants felt that having a connection with the LGBTQI+ community through LGBTQI+ groups had a positive impact on their mental health, with 93% of participants rating making LGBTQI+ friends as also having a positive impact.  

Speaking about the study findings today, Moninne Griffith (she/her), CEO of Belong To, said: “The findings of ‘Being LGBTQI+ in Ireland’ are disheartening and upsetting, but to those of us working to support LGBTQI+ people, unfortunately they are not surprising. Anti-LGBTQI+ and particularly anti-trans attacks are on the rise, and we are seeing increasing levels of hate directed at our community.  

“The first study in this series was conducted close to the time of the Marriage Equality referendum, when hopes were high as to what the future held for LGBTQI+ people in Ireland. However, a sense of complacency regarding support for LGBTQI+ people has crept into Irish society since then, with a perception that – because Marriage Equality was achieved and Pride has become a central calendar highlight for the country as a whole – the struggles of LGBTQI+ people have disappeared.  

“This study demonstrates the harsh reality that the opposite is true – depression, anxiety and stress have increased amongst the community, and respondents have reported increases in witnessing bullying in schools, and more young people are considering leaving school early as a result of the treatment they receive.  

“These upsetting findings should serve as a rallying cry to the Government, policymakers and allies to work with us to end anti-LGBTQI+ stigma and discrimination, and create a society where the LGBTQI+ community can feel safe and supported. 

“Despite these findings, there are some positives to be taken from the report, in particular the important role that LGBTQI+ organisations like Belong To and community groups throughout the country play in providing safe spaces for young people. These spaces allow our young LGBTQI+ people to grow into their identity, develop positive relationships, and witness the joy and pride that comes with belonging to the LGBTQI+ community.”    

Professor Agnes Higgins, Professor In Mental Health, Trinity College Dublin, who led the research team, said: “While much progress has been achieved and the majority of LGBTQI+ people over 25 years of age are doing well, the findings continue to highlight that a significant proportion of those under 25 years of age are struggling with their mental health, self-reporting high levels of self-harm, suicidal behaviour, symptoms of possible eating disorders, and symptoms of severe and extremely severe stress, anxiety and depression. The research also reveals that in comparison to their cisgender peers, transgender and gender non-conforming participants report poorer mental health.   

“For LGBTQI+ adolescents, school continues to be a challenging place, with many experiencing or witnessing homophobic, transphobic, or biphobic bullying. Bullying not only negatively impacted on young people’s desire to leave school early, but those who experienced LGBTQI+ related bullying in school, had poorer wellbeing and mental health outcomes in comparison to those who had not experienced LGBTQI+ related bullying. For many transgender and gender non-conforming participants, the school environment was particularly challenging in terms of expressing one’s gender identity.  

“It is also clear that harassment and anti-LGBTQI+ hate speech is still a reality for many LGBTQI+ people in Ireland today, with many feeling unsafe to express their sexual orientation or gender identity in public. The expansion of online forums appears to be exacerbating the problem, with 23% reporting experiencing anti-LGBTQI+ hate speech either online or in public media within the last year.  

“The research has also many positive messages, with many expressing pride in their LGBTQI+ identity, as well as celebrating the connection, solidarity and sense of belonging that being engaged in LGBTQI+ culture and politics engenders. Importantly, a positive shift in public attitudes since 2016 was also evident, although less favourable attitudes towards transgender and intersex communities was apparent”.  

The study was launched at an event in the Mansion House in Dublin today by broadcaster Brendan Courtney, with a keynote from author Dr Seán Hewitt and featured a panel discussion with a number of LGBTQI+ people sharing their experiences.  

The ‘Being LGBTQI+ in Ireland’ study can be downloaded here: 


Contact: Emily Brennan / Eoin Hynes, Alice Public Relations, Email: / Tel: 086-1658629 / 087-3256268 

Notes to Editors:  

  • Belong To, CEO, Moninne Griffith is available for interview. . 
  • Trinity College Dublin, Professor Agnes Higgins is available for interview.
  • Belong To, Research and Advocacy Manager, Dr Matt Kennedy is available for interview. 

Study Methodology 

The ‘Being LGBTQI+ in Ireland study consists of two modules with a complementary focus. Module One focuses on the mental health of the LGBTQI+ community and collected data from over 2,800 LGBTQI+ people living in Ireland. Module Two focuses on attitudes of the general public in the Republic of Ireland towards LGBTQI+ people. It consists of two nationally representative surveys with approximately 1,000 people in each; one administered through a telephone interview, and one administered online.   

About Being LGBTQI+ in Ireland 

Being LGBTQI+ in Ireland is a research project that aimed to examine the mental health and wellbeing of LGBTQI+ people in the Republic of Ireland and investigated public attitudes towards LGBTQI+ people. The Being LGBTQI+ in Ireland research was conducted by a group of researchers led by Professor Agnes Higgins in the School of Nursing & Midwifery, Trinity College Dublin in collaboration with Belong To – LGBTQ+ Youth Ireland. This study was funded by the National Office for Suicide Prevention (NOSP) & Social Inclusion, Health Service Executive (HSE) and the What Works and Dormant Accounts Fund, Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth through Belong To – LGBTQ+ Youth Ireland. A wide range of organisations are also worked with us on this study, including other LGBTQI+ organisations, statutory agencies, and government departments. 

* My World Survey 2. The National Study of Mental Health in Ireland. Dooley, B, O’Connor, C, Fitzgerald, A., & O’Reilly, A. (2019).  Jigsaw, the National Centre for Youth Mental Health & School of Psychology, University College Dublin: Dublin, Ireland. 

About Belong To  

Belong To, LGBTQ+ Youth Ireland is a national organisation supporting lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) young people. Since 2003, Belong To has worked with LGBTQ+ youth to create a world where they are equal, safe, and thriving in the diversity of their identities and experiences. The organisation advocates and campaigns on behalf of LGBTQ+ young people and offers a specialised LGBTQ+ youth service including crisis counselling with Pieta, information, and the provision of LGBTQ+ youth groups across Ireland. Belong To supports educators and professionals working with LGBTQ+ youth.  

About the School of Nursing and Midwifery, Trinity College Dublin  

The School of Nursing & Midwifery’ at Trinity College has been ranked number one for Nursing in Ireland, 5th in Europe and 26th worldwide in the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2024. It is one of only two schools of Nursing and Midwifery in Ireland that provide undergraduate and postgraduate programmes in all Nursing disciplines (Children’s, General, Intellectual Disability, and Psychiatric Nursing) and in Midwifery