Isolation measures taken to fight the coronavirus pandemic had a negative effect on LGBTQ people’s mental health, according to a new study from the U.K.
Researchers at University College London and Sussex University found that 69% of LGBTQ people suffered from significant depression symptoms during the lockdown.
The study was a survey of LGBTQ people with 310 participants, with results adjusted for demographics. Participants were assessed for levels of stress and symptoms of depression. One in six participants said they experienced homophobia or transphobia during the lockdown.
While 69% of participants had significant symptoms of depression, that number rose to 90% when just looking at those who had experienced homophobic or transphobic harassment.
“Cis-female respondents who identify as gay or lesbian had the lowest scores for perceived social or depressive symptoms; conversely transgender and gender diverse individuals had the highest scores,” reads the paper, which has not yet been peer-reviewed. It adds that the younger LGBTQ people were more likely to show symptoms of depression and stress.
“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,” co-author Laia Bécares told The Guardian. “The mental health implications are stark.”
“One gay man described how his social isolation had become ‘unbearable’ and was ‘destroying my mental health,'” said co-author Dylan Kneale.
One gay teen who participated in the study said that he was away at school before the lockdown, which meant that he could be out.
The lockdown, though, meant that he had go back into the closet when he moved in with his “queerphobic fundamentalist Afro-Caribbean protestant” family.
“My dad compares being LGBT to the Ku Klux Klan,” he said. “My family constantly get on my case because I don’t have stereotypically masculine interests. When I’m at school I can be myself. But having to be at home means I have to keep more secrets, lie more. I have to watch my mannerisms - the way that I walk, the way that I talk. When they say something queerphobic I can’t challenge them.”
The LGBT Foundation, which runs a helpline in the U.K., said that they received 25% more calls during the pandemic from people experiencing suicidal thoughts.