Devastating impact of pandemic on queer women and non-binary folk’s mental health laid bare by new research

anxious woman

More than three quarters of queer women and non-binary people are suffering worse mental health due to the pandemic, a Lesbian Visibility Week survey has shown.

The 2021 DIVA survey, from DIVA magazine, Kantar and Stonewall, revealed the huge impact of the coronavirus pandemic on queer women and non-binary folk.

The survey included 1,884 respondents, of which 72 per cent identified as lesbian, 16 per cent as bisexual, five per cent as gay and one per cent as asexual. 

The majority of the respondents were cisgender women, but six per cent were non-binary and four per cent were trans women.

Every participant in the survey was asked whether they felt that their mental health had worsened during the pandemic, whether or not they considered themselves to have a mental health condition.

More than three quarters (77 per cent) said it had, but this figure reached 88 per cent for 16- to 24-year-olds.

Just over half (51 per cent) of the whole sample considered themselves to have a mental health condition, but this figure also skyrocketed for young queer women and non-binary folk between the ages of 16 and 24 (67 per cent).

The top three concerns for respondents during the pandemic were being unable to see friends and family (63 per cent), worrying about the health of their friends and family (51 per cent) and fear surrounding their own decreased wellbeing (48 per cent).

One respondent said: “Uncertainty about the future has left me very anxious and sometimes it’s hard to push through feelings of despair and carry on. Concentration is difficult and things often feel hopeless.”

“I’ve felt very low every day,” explained another. “Having no motivation, no want to get out of bed, especially on the weekends.

“Continuously tired and fed up with being inside. Also, with the fear of not wanting to be outside, I found myself having multiple breakdowns a week.” 

While 52 per cent of all respondents had accessed mental health services in the past year, and 12 per cent tried to but were unsuccessful, of the 16- to 24-year-olds, 18 per cent had been unsuccessful in accessing services.

Created by DIVA publisher Linda Riley, this year Lesbian Visibility Week has teamed up with Stonewall to provide virtual workshops and events throughout the week.

Riley said in a statement: “I am delighted to have founded Lesbian Visibility Week and be working with Stonewall to build an innovative programme of events around Lesbian Visibility.

“For too long the L in LGBT+ has been under-represented and not celebrated within the LGBT+ community, hopefully Lesbian Visibility Week will finally give our voices a chance to shine.”