Leading UK helpline Childline has become the latest to confirm the heavy burden coronavirus has placed on young LGBT+ people.
They say they’ve seen a 12% increase in the number of counselling sessions about sexuality and gender identity since Britain entered lockdown on 23 March.
From January to the end of June, Childline has delivered over 2,300 counselling sessions on the subject.
Moreover, requests went up further in June – Pride month.
During that month, Childline was delivering 116 counselling sessions about sexuality and gender identity per week. That compares to 92 per week in May.
The charity says lockdown has left some LGBT+ young people feeling overwhelmed. They have told Childline their mental health and emotional wellbeing has got worse.
Some are afraid to tell others about their sexuality or identity. In particular, they are nervous to talk to their parents if those parents are struggling with lockdown.
Meanwhile some young people who have come out have wanted to talk about how their family has responded.
Overall, over two fifths (1,025) of the counselling sessions about sexuality and gender identity talked about coming out.
Some young people told the helpline they’ve only become aware they may be LGBT+ during lockdown. It has given them more time to question how they feel.
Meanwhile some transgender young people are frustrated because their usual access to treatment is reduced or entirely cut off.
‘I feel trapped’
One 14-year-old told Childline:
‘I’m feeling confused and worried. I’m just having a lot of gender identity problems going on and I feel like I don’t know who I am.
‘Normally I would go and play football or meet with some friends but due to the lockdown I can’t do that anymore.
‘I feel trapped and the lockdown has forced me to focus on my gender identity and I don’t know who I can talk to.’
Meanwhile a transgender 16-year-old told them:
‘I’m really struggling with the current lockdown situation, I struggle with gender dysphoria and recently I’ve been feeling really sad and cry non-stop. I feel disgusting with the way I look, I can’t even look at myself in the mirror.
‘I’ve told my family but my dad said he will never understand what’s going on and my grandparents has stopped seeing me. I don’t know what to do.’
‘Lockdown has made it harder for many young people’
Childline is not alone in seeing a rise in LGBT+ calls during the pandemic.
Earlier on in the coronavirus crisis, two long-established UK LGBT+ helplines, Switchboard and LGBT+ Foundation, both reported a rise in calls.
Moreover in June, a new survey found that 79% of LGBT+ people say that coronavirus lockdown has made their mental health worse.
Alex Gray, Childline service manager, said: ‘Lockdown has made it harder for many young people to talk openly about their gender and sexual identity or be their true selves at home, especially if they fear a negative reaction from those they are isolating with.
‘A Childline counsellor is sometimes the first person they have told about how they feel.
‘It’s encouraging to see that young people feel able to talk to Childline, without fear of being judged or stigmatised.’
Help is out there
LGBT+ people are more likely to struggle with poor mental health. But there is help if you just reach out.
Young people in the UK can call 0800 1111 or visit Childline here to seek support.
Meanwhile you can find a list of LGBT+ specific resources and helplines all around the world here. Please note, some of the helplines may have different operating hours during the pandemic.