The Impact of COVID-19 on Black LGBTQ Youth
A recent poll conducted by The Trevor Project found that COVID-19 has had a major impact on Black LGBTQ youth’s health and well-being.
The poll consisted of 1,200 people between the ages of 13–24. 600 youth identified as LGBTQ and 600 identified as straight/cisgender youth. In addition, 175 Black LGBTQ youth and 196 Black straight/cisgender youth were included in the poll.
LGBTQ youth and COVID-19 guidelines
Due to the new stay-at-home guidelines suggested to minimize risk and exposure, LGBTQ youth are finding it harder to maintain a normal lifestyle in their current living conditions.
Stressful living situations
Young people are stating that they are not able to express themselves freely or do not feel safe and secure.1 In moments where they’d typically spend most of their time outside of the home, the youth are finding it difficult to contact their support systems. "One in three Black LGBTQ youth stated that the COVID-19 pandemic made their living situation 'much more stressful' than before."1
Images of violence and feeling safe
In addition, repeated visual representation of violence against Black people in the United States has also had a negative impact on Black LGBTQ youth (73 percent) and straight/cisgender youth (61 percent).1
Most of the youth do not believe police are available in their neighborhoods to protect them. Specifically, only 8 percent of Black LGBTQ youth "strongly agreed" that police were there to protect them.1 The poll also showed that 71 percent of LGBTQ youth heavily distrust the police and 20 percent have reported being mistreated or harassed by law enforcement.1 Of the youth that took the poll, straight/cisgender youth were the only group in which a majority (75 percent) reported that they trust the police.1
Mental health of Black LGBTQ youth
Continuing to witness traumatic events can have a lasting effect on one's mental health. In light of COVID-19, mental health concerns have also been increasing.
Black LGBTQ youth reported having symptoms of anxiety (55 percent) and depression (53 percent) during the pandemic. One in four were unable to access the mental health care they desired; 74 percent reported feelings of loneliness.1
It was also noted that transgender youth were twice as likely to lose access to mental health services and care in comparison to straight/cisgender youth. 1
Addressing mental health needs
Although it is common to experience heightened levels of stress during the COVID-19 pandemic, frontline providers must use this type of information available to them to address and help one manage their mental health needs. This is especially true for addressing issues among Black youth.
In addition, some adolescents may not verbally express their mental health needs due to stigma, negative perceptions, or embarrassment. The more health officials can learn the common signs and review research provided, the more that they can better provide the support to those who may need it the most.
Support for Black LGBTQ youth
The Trevor Project is known to be the largest suicide prevention and crisis intervention organization for LGBTQ young people in the world. The number of youth using The Trevor Project crisis services has doubled pre-COVID traffic. This year has been overwhelming and difficult for many and Black LGBTQ youth already face several mental health disparities.
It is important to be mindful of how current events regarding racism and violence may have heightened what Black LGBTQ youth are experiencing and actively work to properly address them.
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