A new study has revealed the mental health impacts on the LGBTIQ community of the COVID-19 pandemic and related social isolation.
The University of Tasmania study examined the health and social needs of LGBTIQ Tasmanians during the pandemic.
The study found that concerns of the people surveyed included mental health, loneliness, discrimination in healthcare, strained family relationships, and lack of connection with the LGBTIQ community due to isolation.
One respondent reported “grief due to losing access to my community”, adding that they had endured “misgendering by workmates and the wider community due to working [remotely] and loss of visibility of trans folk with social distancing”.
LGBTIQ Tasmanians overwhelmingly reported wanting to receive support from LGBTIQ-specific organisations, with some concerned about the viability of these services in the post-pandemic economy.
“I’m more concerned for others, who rely on support services or are in unsafe home environments,” said a respondent.
“I’m fortunate that I am the queen of my castle at home and have made it safe for me.
“I know others are not in such a situation.”
Lead researcher Dr Ruby Grant said the study confirms what research from overseas already shows.
“The health and social needs of LGBTIQ people can both suffer disproportionately and be overlooked by the authorities during public health emergencies,” Dr Grant said.
“The solutions are more funding for LGBTIQ support services and for the needs of LGBTIQ people to be factored into public health emergency planning.
“We will seek meetings with the Premier Peter Gutwein, Health Minister Sarah Courtney, and Emergency Services Minister Mark Shelton to explain our findings and their implications.”
The study, an Australian first in looking at the health and social needs of LGBTIQ people during the pandemic, was co-authored by researcher Briohny Walker.
As well as additional funding, the researchers have recommended more LGBTIQ-specific mental health services and supports for the wider community.
The study also recommends that the specific impacts of COVID-19 on LGBTIQ people should be factored into ongoing LGBTIQ-inclusive practice training for a range of professionals to increase awareness.
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