Findings from a national survey, conducted by BeLonG To Youth Services reveal that 93% of LGBTI+ youth are struggling with anxiety, stress or depression during COVID-19. This is in comparison to 53% of the general youth population named in the Young Social Innovators Covid-19 Youth ‘Check In’ Survey 2020.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, research highlighted the mental health struggles experienced by LGBTI+ young people in Ireland with the group being twice more likely to self-harm, three times more like to experience suicide ideation and four times more likely to experience anxiety and depression compared to their non-LGBTI+ friends1. This reality has been compounded since the COVID-19 pandemic began as LGBTI+ young people are experiencing a loss of access to the spaces and supports which they relied on for their well-being.
Key findings reveal that during COVID-19:
- 55% of LGBTI+ young people are struggling with suicide ideation.
- 45% of LGBTI+ young people are struggling with self-harm.
- 60% of LGBTI+ young people are experiencing loneliness.
Some 42% of respondents said they were not fully accepted in their home environments due to their sexual orientation or gender identity, with 53% of LGBTI+ young people surveyed indicating their home environment is not a good place to be during COVID-19 restrictions.
Anonymous responses to the LGBTI+ Life in Lockdown Survey include:
- “Sometimes I think being dead is better than having to deal with online school, criticism from the person I live with, and the fear of the virus.”
- “Right now, my depression is worse than it’s ever been, and really that’s saying something. I’ve had days where I couldn’t even get out of bed, because of a numbness and lack of motivation”
- “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.”
- 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.”
- “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.”
Moninne Griffith, CEO of BeLonG To Youth Services says: “We are fearful that the devastating mental health impact of COVID-19 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.
Now more than ever, LGBTI+ young people need access to a wide range of support and life-saving resources. 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.”
About the LGBTI+ Life in Lockdown Survey
Conducted by BeLonG To Youth Services, The LGBTI+ Lives in Lockdown survey was conducted online from May 1st-10th 2020 to assess the impact of the COVID-19 restrictions on LGBTI+ youth in the Republic of 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 on behalf of LGBTI+ youth, liaised with our partners, our network of parents/guardians, professionals and young people via social media. The survey consisted of 22 questions and was hosted on the verified survey site GetFeedback.
The survey was anonymous for the safety and comfort of LGBTI+ young people. Some 519 young people started the survey, however the final sample consisted of a total of 294 LGBTI+ young people between the ages of 14 and 23 years. Participants were from all 26 counties in the Republic of Ireland. We captured where individuals were living at this time via county selection which is represented via a provincial breakdown: 4% of young people who completed the survey are living in Ulster, 8% in Connacht, 67% in Leinster and 21% in Munster.