65% LGBT+ people struggling with mental health in pandemic

Young people and particularly those that identify as LGBT+ have seen their mental health deteriorate the most since the pandemic began, according to new research from Network Rail and Liverpool-based national mental health charity, Chasing the Stigma.

Almost three quarters of 18-24-year-olds (69%) say that COVID-19 has had a negative impact on their mental health, with this affecting 65% of those who identify as being LGBT+ and 64% students.

The research was carried out as part of Network Rail’s new There is Always Hope campaign aimed at encouraging those struggling with their mental health to seek help before they reach crisis point, by signposting them to Chasing the Stigma’s Hub of Hope app.

According to the study, mental health symptoms have surged among all age groups over the last 12 months, with respondents reporting increases in anxiety (40%), loneliness (31%) and depression (31%).

The study of more than 2,000 British adults by research agency Yonder, reveals that nearly half of Brits (48%) agreed that their mental health has taken a hit since the pandemic began but it has impacted youngsters more (69% of 18-24-year olds), compared to 28% of over 65s.

The rail infrastructure giant has partnered with charity, Chasing the Stigma to create a new film, which can be viewed below, that portrays a young man looking distressed and withdrawn, who finds himself surrounded by positive moments of hope as he moves through a railway station.

At the end of the film, he finds himself having a moment of connection with a fellow passenger, which leads to them striking up a conversation as they embark on their journey. By showing these moments of care and connection throughout the film, the aim is to show that no matter how desperate you may feel, there are people around you who care and there is always hope.

The film ends with a call to action encouraging people to download the Hub of Hope app if they are struggling with their mental health. The Hub of Hope app is provided by Chasing the Stigma and brings together all of the mental health support available to someone in any given area, from NHS support and national charities like Mind and Samaritans to voluntary, private and third sector services.

Andrew Haines, chief executive of Network Rail said: “We have a huge responsibility to keep people safe and support the wellbeing of both our staff and passengers. Through this campaign, we are trying to help vulnerable people who are at risk before they even come to the rail network by signposting them towards support services through the Hub of Hope.”

Jake Mills, founder and CEO of Chasing the Stigma, is featured in the There is Always Hope film. Jake set up the charity and developed the Hub of Hope following his own suicide attempt. He realised when talking through his own personal experience that many people didn’t know where to turn within their own mental health issues and he wanted to offer support to others who found themselves in a similar situation.

Jake commented: “Mental health has never been more important, especially as the results show the Covid-19 pandemic is having a real impact on people, particularly young adults and the LGBT+ community, across the UK

“Breaking down the stigma around mental health and giving people access to the right support at the right time, is essential as it can make such a difference. These are challenging times and it is no wonder people are finding it hard, but help and support is always there and there is always someone to talk too.”

There were some hopeful findings however, with three in five claiming to know where to go for mental health support in a crisis (58%) and close to half (47%) would be encouraged to seek mental health support if they could use an anonymous app to access local services and this was particularly appealing to younger people (59% of 18-24s) and those who identify as LGBT+ (64%).

Jake continued: “The Hub of Hope is designed exactly for this reason and is suitable for anyone of any age and at any time to get access to help. Just by sharing the app with friends, colleagues and family members could show someone that there is always hope.

Anyone struggling with their mental health can download the Hub of Hope app. The Hub of Hope can be accessed through the app, Chasing the Stigma website or at www.hubofhope.co.uk. The app also has a Need Help Now? button that links straight through to Samaritans and Crisis Text Line.

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LCR Pride Foundation is a registered charity in England & Wales, no 1185167. Registered Company 11754074.