LGBTIreland report reveals mental health issues amongst LGBTI youth

A recent report has highlighted the mental health issues LGBTI youth experience in Ireland, as well as their experiences of harassment and bullying.The Gay and Lesbian Equality Network (GLEN), alongside BelongTo youth service released the report on 22nd March, entitled LGBTIreland. The report was launched at an event by former Irish president, Dr Mary McAleese.The report found that LGBTI people over 26 were “doing well” and reported “good self-esteem”. However, the results for those under 25 showed extreme levels of distress. Speaking at the launch, McAleese described the results of the report as “horrifying”.The report found that 34 per cent of LGBTI people had self-harmed in the past year, with 60 per cent saying that their self-harm was in relation to their sexual identity. Younger LGBTI people were found to be most likely to self-harm, with 56 per cent of 14-18 year olds having self-harmed, and 43 per cent of 19-25 year olds. When compared to the results of the My World national youth mental healthy study of 17-25 year olds, the results indicate that self-harm rates are two times higher amongst LGBTI young people. In the grouping, bisexual and transgender people were most likely to have self-harmed.Suicidal thoughts were also found to be an issue among LGBTI young people, with 70 per cent of 14-18 year olds and 62 per cent of 19-25 year olds reporting as having thought of ending their own lives. 21 per cent of LGBTI people had attempted suicide, with a quarter of these having done so in the last year. Attempted suicide was found to be three times higher amongst 19-25 year old LGBTI people when compared with a similar age group in the My World studyThe report also highlighted the harassment that LGBTI people experience in schools and in their day-to-day lives. 75 per cent reported having been verbally abused at some point for their sexuality. One in three have been threatened with physical violence, and one in six LGBTI people have experienced sexual violence.Responding to the findings of the report, Louise Keogh, auditor of UCD’s PleaseTalk society and previous LGBTQ+ Society auditor, says that the results are not surprising.“In my point of view, I didn’t find them too shocking,” she says. “Just kind of knowing so many LGBT people last year and before, and even from my own personal experience, it’s so true. The percentages are so high but it’s so correct, and that’s why I think these reports are so important, because it kind of reminds people that it is an issue.”UCD students who are affected by mental health issues can seek assistance from PleaseTalk. UCD also runs a counselling service, which students can sign up to on their website or at the Student Health and Counselling service in the Old Student Centre.