Lockdown has caused a surge in depression and anxiety for the LGBTQ+ community.
A survey of 2333 people, conducted by OutLife, discovered that four in five (79%) LGBTQ+ individuals have experienced a plummet in their mental health due to the restrictions in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Before lockdown, 24% of those interviewed said they felt depressed “very often” or “every day” while 34% admitted to experiencing anxiety. During lockdown, these numbers increased to 43% (depression) and 50% (anxiety).
For young people, loneliness has become a whole other epidemic, as more than two in three (63%) of LGBTQ+ people under the age of 18 admitted to having thoughts of loneliness and isolation during lockdown.
The survey also found that 15% have experienced violence during lockdown, while Black and South Asian members of the community are twice as likely to be abused in lockdown compared to queer white people.
Ian Howley, the Chief Executive of LGBT HERO (the parent organisation of OutLife) said “it’s without any doubt that COVID-19 has negatively affected LGBTQ+ people” and that these results must be used to better support them.
“We also need to find better ways to support those who are experiencing both physical and emotional abuse. Young LGBTQ+ people are also in need of better support systems as they are the ones who are suffering the most,” he said.
“And we must do better to support Black, Asian and other minorities who are disproportionately affected during this time.”
Ian continued: “It’s important that we future proof our support systems to make sure we can better respond to those who need it. It’s our recommendation that we build these support systems now rather than later.
“We need to be able to support those who are suffering from mental wellbeing issues, feeling isolated or alone and those who are in dangerous living situations. We hope these results will help build these systems.
“But it’s not just about now. The impact of this virus will likely have long-term health and wellbeing issues for many people, it’s important that we continue to monitor how LGBTQ+ people are doing and continue to shape our services to meet their needs.”
Ian called on the government to “step in and support LGBTQ+ charities” so they can continue their life-saving work.
“Although the government has released funds for non-profits during the coronavirus pandemic, it doesn’t go far enough and charities, like ourselves, tend to fly under the radar and miss out on a lot of the funding that’s available,” he added.
“OutLife was designed to be an online first response in supporting those who need information, advice and support, especially during a crisis like we are living through today. It supports over 50,000 LGBTQ+ a month.
“It’s important LGBTQ+ services, like OutLife, survive so we all can continue to be there for LGBTQ+ people when they need us.”
To read the results, visit www.outlife.org.uk/the-lgbtq-lockdown-wellbeing-report.