As most of the world remains sheltered at home, LGBTQ youth are arguably among the more vulnerable segments of the population to the prolonged quarantine period.
Cut off from the support networks they formed outside of the home and forced back into space they may not consider safe, it is not surprising that there have been incidences of increased stress and anxiety among the LGBTQ youth.
The LGBTQ Youth During The Pandemic
A nonprofit organization for LGBTQ youth released a report in April 2020 outlining the severe ramifications of COVID-19 on the mental well-being of the demographic.
According to a study, even before the pandemic hit, LGBTQ youth already faced significant risk for depression, anxiety, substance use, and suicidality. With schools and other communal spaces closed, the pandemic has made LGBTQ youth all the more vulnerable to the mental toll since access to positive social interactions diminishes while negative social interactions rise.
What do we mean by this? Although the experience is certainly not universal, a number of LGBTQ youth have been experiencing a lack of support from networks they formed in school or their communities as they take refuge in what may be an unsupportive environment at home.
Research suggests that only a third of LGBTQ youth experience parental acceptance of their sexual orientation and gender identity. In the LGBTQ population, one-third experiences parental rejection while the remaining one-third opts to stay quiet about their identity until they are adults.
LGBTQ youth also report higher rates of sexual, psychological, and physical abuse compared to their straight or cisgender peers, and intimate partner violence is even more pronounced in the LGBTQ community, according to a study, pointing to the serious threat of some confined environments.
The quarantine protocol ordering people to stay at home is threatening for the LGBTQ youth with unsupportive families. To be in an environment where they feel invalidated and unsafe, for a long time, may cause them to feel isolated from others.
Additionally, the unpredictability of the pandemic may feel like an endless tribulation for them. Up to this point, it’s still unsure as to when this pandemic will end. The members of the LGBT youth also feel terrified that their families might find out.
It is undoubtedly a painful and lonely experience for LGBTQ youth who can are prone to self-destructive actions without the support and medical assistance they need to get through this health crisis. Fortunately, there are several available resources and support groups to help one get through the other side of this crisis in a stable mental place.
Connect With An Online Community
For LGBTQ youth, one’s chosen family sometimes plays a more significant role than one’s biological family. Forging and maintaining positive social connections outside of the home are healthy ways to ease the mental pressures of the pandemic.
The good news is there is no need to look far! Just as there are many shades in the rainbow, there are only as many LGBTQ groups on various social media platforms where young individuals can get the support, validation, and acceptance they need. There are state-based and community-based groups on Facebook that one can look up to air concerns, unload, and feel a sense of belonging.
Beyond online support groups, LGBTQ youth can cope with pandemic-induced stress and anxiety partially brought about by cabin fever in many ways.
- Avoid a judgemental attitude.
- Secure strong connections with supportive individuals.
- Go on a digital detox.
- Create a schedule of daily activities.
- Read reliable sources to understand your rights further.
- Do projects that keep your nerves calm.
- Step out once in a while for a dose of fresh air.
- Feel free to seek help.
Getting The Help You Need
As the pandemic takes its toll, health providers have accelerated the shift online through telehealth services. LGBTQ youth experiencing anxiety can reach out to various telehealth providers through video calls, messaging apps, and hotlines. For instance, they offer 24/7 support to LGBTQ youth in crisis through text and chat.
When worst comes to worst, there are specific organizations that offer shelter services for LGBTQ youth seeking refuge. Ali Forney Center in New York is one such organization providing housing and support services to LGBTQ youth aged 16-24.
As the COVID-19 crisis continues to unfold, there is a need to strengthen social bonds while keeping apart. Being one of the more vulnerable demographics even before the pandemic took hold, the LGBTQ youth need all the help and support they need to get through and beyond this crisis.
When homes are not the safe spaces they ought to be, communities should step up and fill the gap. Only then can we build back better.