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Britain’s LGBTQ+ Community Face ‘Unbearable’ Mental Health Crisis During Lockdown: Report

Why Global Citizens Should Care
LGBTQ+ communities are disproportionately affected by COVID-19 — they're less likely to have access to healthcare and more likely to have insecure accomodation. And unfortunately, evidence suggests that the COVID-19 lockdown has provoked a serious mental health crisis too — making an already vulnerable community even more marginalised. You can join us in taking action here on this and other issues related to the UN’s Global Goals. 

The social isolation of quarantine is perhaps quite like COVID-19 itself: for the most part, it has affected us all — but it is certainly no great leveller.

It hits differently depending on your background. The challenges of lockdown weigh heavily on people that live with abusive partners; for refugees trapped without access to basic health information, or water and sanitation facilities; or children in poverty developing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) through a lack of connection with other kids.

Often, it’s marginalised communities that are among those hit hardest — like in Britain, where the LGBTQ+ community have been silently going through a mental health crisis while being at home, according to a new report.

A study from University College London (UCL) and Sussex University, published on Tuesday, found that 69% of 310 LGBTQ+ respondents had suffered from depression during the pandemic, while 90% of those who had experienced homophobia or transphobia reported similar depressive symptoms.

Meanwhile, one in six had faced discrimination during the pandemic because of their sexuality — which increases to a third for those who were not open about their sexual or gender identity. 

The authors of the study have urged the government to offer more funding to support LGBTQ+ charities under pressure from the demands of the pandemic.

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It follows numerous accounts from such charities that the mental health of Britain’s LGBTQ+ communities is under immense strain. 

For example, LGBT Hero — a health equality organisation — reported a 44% increase in people accessing its suicide prevention web pages during the first three months of the year. It’s one of eight charities that told the BBC how more people than ever are attempting to access such support.

In addition, the Guardian pointed to information released by the LGBT Foundation — a nonprofit supporting local communities in Greater Manchester — that revealed how mental health crisis calls had shot up by 123% in the past month, while phone calls about suicidal thoughts had increased 25%.

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Indeed, according to the report from UCL and Sussex University, almost 10% of those surveyed reported feeling unsafe in their homes.

“Many had to go back in the closet and live with people who either didn’t know their sexual orientation or gender identity, or were not supportive of it,” said Laia Bécares, Sussex University’s deputy director of the centre for innovation and research in well-being. “The mental health implications are stark.”

The report’s other co-author, Dylan Kneale from UCL’s social research institute, said: “One gay man described how his social isolation had become ‘unbearable’ and was ‘destroying my mental health’.”


If you’re from the UK LGBTQ+ community, you can continue to contribute to the study by completing the survey here. If you would like mental health support, you can find resources collated by the NHS here — and if you or anybody you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts, you can talk to Samaritans for free by calling 116 123.