Research from BeLonG To Youth Services shows that young members of the LGBTI+ community are reluctant to open up about their mental health challenges.
Three years on from the success of a ‘Yes’ vote for marriage equality, 90% of LGBTI+ young people believe their struggle with mental health is on-going. Nearly half (49%) of LGBTI+ youth surveyed feel reluctant to open up about their mental health due to the perceived expectations that they should feel happy in a post-marriage-referendum Ireland.
The research also found that LGBTI+ youth fear talking about mental health challenges they experience following coming out as LGBTI+. Some 56% of respondents don’t want to worry their parents or friends about mental health issues, feeling pressure to appear content once they have come out as LGBTI+. One young person stated, ‘I was so afraid of my parent’s reaction… of disappointing and letting people down.'
The findings come from compelling research conducted by BeLonG To Youth Services that delves into the mental health challenges facing LGBTI+ youth in Ireland today. The research was commissioned for the launch of BeLonG To’s ‘Better Out Than In’ campaign in partnership with Bank of Ireland and Thinkhouse Youth Agency. The campaign strives to promote a healthier relationship with mental health and wellbeing amongst 14-23 year olds in Ireland who are LGBTI+. ‘Better Out Than In’ encourages young LGBTI+ people to come out about their mental health and seek help if, and when, they need it.
Speaking about the campaign, Moninne Griffith, BeLonG To Youth Services Executive Director, said:
“Once we learned that 80% of LGBTI+ youth are afraid to reach out for help when struggling with their mental health, the necessity of the ‘Better Out Than In’ campaign became glaringly apparent. We know that anxiety and depression can form part of the LGBTI+ youth experience1, and we want to send a message to LGBTI+ youth that this doesn’t mean they just have to accept it and struggle alone. Taking the brave step of opening up to someone you trust about your worries and fears is worth it.
"In the same way that coming out as LGBTI+ and accepting yourself can be a freeing experience, so too is talking to someone about your mental health. When worries and fears have nowhere to go, they bounce around inside your head and get amplified more until they become larger than life. It’s when you share these thoughts that you realise they are far ‘Better Out Than In’. With this campaign, we’re raising awareness that getting help is not something to be feared, it is life saving and life affirming and driving home a vital message – that life opens up when they do.”
BeLonG To is promoting this important message by partnering with some of Ireland’s most influential YouTube stars such as James Mitchell, Jamie O’Herlihy and Jackson Miloh. These LGBTI+ YouTubers have bravely created powerful pieces of content, sharing their stories in the hope that they can inspire other youths in the community to open up and speak about the challenges they are facing in their day-to-day lives.
Other Survey Findings: 77% of respondents cited being out or coming out as LGBTI+ at school as the biggest source of anxiety for LGBTI+ youth in Ireland, with 76% naming bullying as a major cause of anxiety, help is becoming more and more accessible through online resources, with 64% of respondents turning to the internet for information about mental health and some 65% of LGBTI+ youth are most likely to confide in a close friend, showing that immediate peer groups are one of the most important support networks for the LGBTI+ community.
Those looking to seek free and confidential support or advice from BeLonG To Youth Services can visit: www.belongto.org/betteroutthaninhub or call 01 670 6223.
This campaign is supported by the HSE National Office for Suicide Prevention.