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The current pandemic has brought with it numerous challenges. While some are free to feel safe and comfortable in their own homes, others are facing daily struggles, and living in unsupportive, damaging environments.

LGBT+ youth continue to be at high risk for compromised mental health, despite the increase in public support and coming out at a younger age (Annual Review of Clinical Psychology, 2016). While studies consistently show that positive mental health within the LGBT+ community is linked to having positive parental and peer support, with parental support often providing the most benefit. With many protective factors, such as school and peers currently not an accessible option, LGBT+ youth are at yet a higher risk.

In the current situation it is important to keep in mind ways to protect yourself and others who are currently isolating in a stressful environment.

  • Make a list of resources that can help you when things get too overwhelming. This can include local helplines, LGBT+ friendly NGOs and other support networks. Have their contact details safe and close by and make sure to contact someone whenever you need support.

  • Reach out to friends. Even if you can’t find a way to meet at a safe distance, make sure to reach out and let your friends know the situation. Keep in contact through video calls or chats.

  • If you are still in school and having online lessons or working from home, try and confide in an adult you trust who can check in on you before work or lessons begin.

  • Make a list of things that can keep you occupied. Whether it’s a playlist to drown out negativity, planned workouts, a movie marathon or a make-up tutorial; find things that make you feel happy and feel like yourself so you do not lose touch with yourself during this time in isolation.

  • If it is possible, try and find time and ways to leave the house. Whether you go for a walk or even simply to the supermarket for a quick break from home.

  • Make a list of activities you can do once this is all over. Plan your outfits, plan who you’re meeting and plan the locations. Knowing you have something positive to look forward to can help in times of stress.

  • If you yourself are not in this situation but fear one of your friends might be, please contact them and check in often; or call helplines on their behalf for further advice on how you can support your peers.

Taking care of our own and each other’s mental health during this time is important for our society. The more connected we feel, the better we can combat this situation. Always remember that support is available in various forms and that although reaching out can be hard, it is a very important and positive step.

References:
Annual Review of Clinical Psychology, Vol. 12:465-487 (Volume publication date March 2016) First published online as a Review in Advance on January 14, 2016 https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev-clinpsy-021815-093153

Michaela Pace is a Psychology graduate from the University of Malta. She has worked with children and adolescents within the social sector and currently works as a Triage Officer and Chat Bar Coordinator within Willingness Team. Michaela aims to further her studies locally by pursuing a Masters in Gestalt Psychotherapy in the near future.