I have spoken with members of the LGBTQ community and read many posts on social media. There is a problem. I am bringing this to light in the hope our community, as well as friends, family and allies of our community, may offer support. A phone call, a video chat or a text message, may well be all that is required to let your LGBTQ loved ones know that you are there for them.
The LGBT Foundation, here in the UK has stated, people getting in touch with their helplines, has more than doubled since the lockdown was put into place.
Mental health problems in the LGBTQ community are already high. I won’t go into the reasons as to why that is in this blog. Lockdown has put those with existing mental health issues further at risk. Which is why we need to look out for each other in these dark days. Helplines are battling to cope with vastly increased numbers of callers than they are used to. It is so important that we, as a community, are here for each other. Some of us are lucky enough to have friends and family who can offer support. Not everyone is that lucky, so please help your fellow LGBTQ community with messages of encouragement and love. Whether that be in your local town or on social media. Reach out, you could improve someone’s day or potentially save a life.
Loneliness, especially in the older generation, who may well be living on their own because their children have grown up and left home, and they have no partner, is one of the problems. A large number of LGBTQ people live alone, having been forced out by homophobic or transphobic families. This can be made worse by the fact they may well be suffering from depression, anxiety, dysphoria, and unable to get out due to lockdown.
Some transgender girls and guys, who are not fully out, are unable to be themselves due to being permanently locked down in the family home. This can be very damaging to their mental health by having to withdraw into themselves.
There is the younger generation, who are living with transphobic or homophobic family. With the schools and colleges closed, they have nowhere to go to get away from the verbal bullying, and in some cases, physical abuse. No contact with their teachers, no face to face support from friends, and no respite from the abuse at home, results in a very toxic and damaging environment for them.
Medication is in short supply, as are the doctors and nurses. Some items, such as injections, that need to be administered at the GP surgery, are just not being carried out. This leaves many trans women and trans men with an increase in their gender dysphoria, leading to further depression and anxiety.
For those able to cope with their illness before the pandemic, they are now struggling to get through each day. Many people who suffer from depression learn how to deal with it. We know what we have to do when we are starting to feel low, we need to get out and about. Spending time doing things we enjoy doing, around people we love, is essential to lift our mood. The worst possible thing we can do is to shut ourselves away, and that is exactly what we are having to do at this time.
Isolated and scared is how many of the LGBTQ community feel right now. The longer this lockdown goes on, the tougher it gets for those with existing mental health issues. Some are having thoughts of self-harm and worse.
We in the community need to be stronger than ever for each other. There are many LGBTQ social media groups where you will find a friendly ear. Reach out to these groups.
If you have LGBTQ friends or family, especially those who live on their own, please check in with them regularly. They need to know you care and are there for them.
Look after each other and stay safe.