Black LGBT+ young people’s mental health particularly impacted by pandemic

New research by Just Like Us, released today, has found that the pandemic has not only resulted in LGBT+ young people being more than twice as likely as their peers to worry daily for their mental health, it has also more severely impacted Black LGBT+ young people.


Just Like Us commissioned independent research, surveying almost 3,000 secondary school pupils across the UK, and found Black LGBT+ young people are more likely to be worried for their mental health with 61% worrying about their mental health on a daily basis, compared to 56% of white LGBT+ young people.


Black LGBT+ young people are also more likely to be experiencing depression (61%), anxiety disorder (58%), panic attacks (42%), and alcohol or drug dependence (15%). For white LGBT+ pupils, the likelihood of experiencing these are significantly lower: 48% say they have or are experiencing depression, 52% anxiety disorder, 39% panic attacks, 6% alcohol or drug dependence.


Black LGBT+ young people are also significantly more likely to be experiencing difficulties at home in lockdown, with a third (29%) reporting daily tension in the place they’re living, compared to a quarter (25%) of white LGBT+ young people.


It can feel like the pandemic is universal but from our research it’s clear that the impact is falling on different people in vastly different ways. In addition to being twice as likely to catch coronavirus than white people, Black LGBT+ people are also facing worse mental health outcomes.


Earlier this week we spoke to PinkNews about findings from our research that show coronavirus and lockdown(s) poses a huge risk to the mental health of LGBT+ young people generally.


Our new research has also found that Black LGBT+ young people are disproportionately facing tensions at home on a daily basis and report facing higher levels of depression and anxiety. They’re also more likely to be worrying about the state of their mental health on a daily basis. Huffington Post UK reported on what this data tells us about the experiences of Black LGBT+ young people. The important question for us as an organisation is how we respond to this. There is more we can do to learn from and collaborate with Black-led LGBT+ initiatives, such as UK Black Pride, Exist Loudly, Black Out UK and Black LGBTQIA+ Therapy Fund, and we will continue to do so. But the weight of meeting the needs of Black LGBT+ young people is still squarely within our remit, and it’s important that we rise to the challenge set for us by this research and the experiences of the people we support. The first step for us is improving ourselves, by looking critically at the diversity of our networks to ensure we are able to meet the needs of schools and Black LGBT+ young people in the UK.

The second step is contributing to improving the sector. The excellent work of organisations like Charity So White over the past year highlighted reports of racism within the charity sector, that to my shame I found shocking and surprising in their scale and virulence.


Over the past few months we have made changes to our recruitment processes to ensure they provide opportunities for people who come from outside the charity sector and moved away from the traditional CV/interview approach, which we have learned can be an ineffective way of ensuring the best candidates are selected.


Thirdly, we must ensure we are supporting schools in taking an intersectional approach when they start their LGBT+ inclusion journey, ensuring that we provide them with a wide range of resources for School Diversity Week that include a diverse range of LGBT+ people including Black LGBT+ people.


At Just Like Us, we know how important it is for young people to see visible role models who reflect pupils’ experiences and challenges they’re facing. We commit to ensuring our volunteer pool and our resources meet the needs of a diverse range of schools and young people including Black LGBT+ young people.


If you work in a school, please get in touch by emailing info@justlikeus.org to see how we can help you support your LGBT+ pupils who are likely to be struggling at this difficult time.


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