The coronavirus pandemic, and the resulting enforced government lockdown, has had a detrimental impact on many people. Individuals across the country have lost their jobs and businesses, been furloughed, separated from friends and family and distanced from the support and help they may need. Social services and other key organisations providing valuable support are under significant strain. Social distancing measures have made it harder than ever to provide physical support and help to those that need it. And let’s not even start on the financial pressures placed on individuals, businesses and charities as a result of the pandemic.
The implications have been far-reaching for many people, but in this article we’re putting the focus on the LGBT+ community.
How has the coronavirus pandemic impacted the LGBT+ community?
As with everyone, some members of the LGBT+ community will be coping well with the lockdown situation, while others have undoubtedly been affected. The community may be impacted in more specific and unique ways, particularly from a wellbeing viewpoint. It’s important to recognise and offer support to those who are struggling, and similarly those suffering during lockdown should feel able to ask for help.
It’s fair to acknowledge that some members of the LGBT+ community may be particularly vulnerable to social isolation. Those in marginalised groups, or vulnerable people may feel less visible, connected and supported during lockdown. We are all feeling a level of isolation, but this is perhaps even more prominent for members of the community who are unable to work, meet friends and family or even volunteer as they normally would. Within a community where mental health issues are already high, such a challenging time is likely to exacerbate mental health problems.
Many people within the LGBT+ community may feel like an outsider, and take great comfort in being around people who are in similar situations. They may feel comfortable and accepted for the first time. Taking away that support network and asking people to stay at home staring at the same four walls can have a very detrimental impact on people’s mental health.
There are other significant issues impacting the community. For example, according to Stonewall, 11% of LGBT+ people face domestic abuse from a partner, which rises to 19% for trans and non-binary individuals. Those living in a difficult domestic setting may find it harder than ever to access the support and help they need. Galop is there to support people suffering hate crime, domestic abuse or sexual abuse. It’s also worth noting that not every LGBT+ person living with family or friends is able to be open about their sexuality or gender, and may not feel accepted by the people they live with. This can contribute towards mental health issues, and will make a lockdown situation significantly more difficult.
Access to health and support services
Accessing key health services can be more difficult in our current climate. The services people may normally access in order to gain support may be closed or operating limited service due to the pandemic and restrictions.
People waiting for medication, consultations, surgeries or procedures may find these appointments delayed which can create a huge level of anxiety.
Fortunately many organisations are still operating online support and helplines, giving people the opportunity to access help remotely.
Looking after your wellbeing
Finding ways to maintain good levels of mental health is key. Whilst mindfulness and meditation aren’t for everyone, they are a great way to release stress and lower anxiety. Analyse your own key stressors and find a health and productive way to look after your mental health. Whether you enjoy reading, going for a run of watching TV, embrace your spare time and use it to relax and look after yourself.
You must also consider the impact of lockdown on your physical health. Maintain a good fitness routine, whether that’s running in your local park or taking part in at-home exercise classes. There are many LGBT+ fitness programmes out there to take part in. People in isolation must also keep an eye on their diet, including stimulants such as caffeine or alcohol. This could also have a knock-on impact on mental health. Don’t overindulge, and try to stick to a nutritious, balanced diet.
It’s important not to become socially isolated, even if you are in lockdown alone. Keep in touch with family and friends regularly, and try to keep occupied. Take part in online events and activities, learn new skills and meet new friends online via community groups or forums.
How can the community stay connected and support one another?
It’s important that both the LGBT+ community and heterosexual / cisgender people look out for one another and offer support to those who need it. Here are just some ways to remain connected to the community during lockdown:
- Stay positive. Try not to read fake news or scaremongering. Instead, find good news stories or read a website / blog that entertains you and lifts your spirits.
- Be aware. Whilst it’s important to only get information from official sources, do keep up to date with key news stories and updates within the global LGBT+ community.
- Make use of technology. Stay in touch with friends and family via phone and video calls, to ensure you keep up with a social routine.
- Join a community chat, Facebook group, forum or other online group. Get involved in online group activities such as quizzes, book clubs and more. Staying social and meeting new like-minded people is a great way to feel connected to the community.
- Replicate the Pride atmosphere. We’re not suggesting go right ahead with a Pride parade, but why not create an event for friends within the LGBT+ community who may need to feel that support and acceptance.
- Fundraise and donate where you can. Many charitable organisations coordinate their funding around Pride month, and this year fundraising is likely to take a hit. If you can organise your own fundraising event, or take part in other online fundraisers, this would be a great way to support the community and ensure charitable organisations can thrive once the pandemic has passed.
- Consider those who may need additional support. This could include older members of the LGBT+ community, who may not have children as a support network and could find self-isolation particularly difficult. It could also include those with a disability, who will need additional support if they are struggling to navigate the health system and aren’t receiving the usual level help from their network.
- Be an ally. You may not be an LGBT+ individual yourself, but you can show support for the community and be an ally for those who may need your friendship. Support LGBT+ focussed organisations, engage with LGBT+ online content and reach out to people you know personally to ensure they are coping and managing their wellbeing effectively.
Improving wellbeing and accessing support
Wellbeing is a state of being well across all four main pillars: physical, mental, financial and social. In order to achieve a good level of wellbeing, an individual must feel satisfied across each of these pillars. Here at We Are Wellbeing, we champion individuals who are dedicated to managing their wellbeing and seeking the support they need to achieve this. From practising mindfulness through to trying a new nutritional diet or savings routine, there are countless ways we can all work to improve our wellbeing. With the help of our expert team and their training, we’ve developed a range of wellbeing webinars on a number of key topics. Access them for free here.