Human Rights Campaign Celebrates World Mental Health Day

by Meghan Olson

Today, the Human Rights Campaign celebrates World Mental Health Day by sharing LGBTQ+ mental health resources and discussing the importance of self-compassion.

None of us wants to live with uncertainty, and during the COVID-19 pandemic, uncertainty has crept into most aspects of life with unwelcome ferocity. Practicing self-compassion一meaning that we are warm and understanding toward ourselves, is especially important. Self-compassion shows up in different ways. It can mean forgiving yourself for the little things you might get wrong. It can mean letting go of the guilt you feel for canceling plans in favor of having a night in. And it can mean giving yourself a break and taking a moment to breathe. Practicing self-compassion is much easier said than done, and like anything else can get easier with practice.

Ellen Kahn, HRC Senior Director, Programs and Partnerships

Since the start of COVID-19, people around the world have faced severe hardships and unprecedented disruptions to their daily lives. A year into the COVID-19 pandemic, a study from the Kaiser Family Foundation found that nearly 75% of LGBTQ+ people report that COVID-19 has harmed their mental health. These circumstances have unquestionably had an impact on the mental health of all people, LGBTQ+ people in particular.

The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the mental health challenges that LGBTQ+ people routinely face; challenges that are largely due to stigma, discrimination and bias in all of its forms. And this same systemic discrimination means that LGBTQ+ people also face gaps in receiving adequate mental health care.

Amid existing challenges, the COVID-19 pandemic has taken a heavy toll. A report from The Trevor Project on the Implications of COVID-19 for LGBTQ+ Youth Mental Health and Suicide Prevention finds that the impact of the pandemic has led to mental health strains on LGBTQ+ youth. The report outlines ways that physical distancing, economic strain and increased anxiety related to COVID-19 may impact LGBTQ+ youth. These factors in conjunction with an uncertain world have left many LGBTQ+ people一 especially young people一feeling isolated overwhelmed.

For many LGBTQ+ people, the start of the pandemic felt like the world turning upside down. Community spaces shut down and the impact of isolation from lockdowns has been intense. Many LGBTQ+ people have faced housing insecurity and terrifying worries about the future.

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a disproportionate impact on Black and Brown LGBTQ+ people. Data collected by HRC and PSB research found that 19 percent of transgender people had become unemployed because of the pandemic. Among transgender people of color, that jumped to 26 percent.

According to the Williams Institute, among LGBTQ+ people, those who are Black and Latinx were significantly more likely to report knowing someone who had died from COVID-19 — with 32 percent of Black respondents and 31 percent of Latinx respondents saying they had lost someone, compared to 21 percent of white respondents.

If you or someone you know is in need of help or assistance, contact The Trevor Project, which runs phone and text chat support lines specifically for LGBTQ+ youth, or other similar programs committed to providing LGBTQ+ people with mental health support. You can also take this confidential, online mental health screening test courtesy of our partners at Mental Health America.

HRC has compiled a list of LGBTQ+ mental health resources here.

Learn more about mental health and LGBTQ+ people who are Black, Indigenous or people of color.

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