Mental health has been a major issue for the broad society here in Australia and across the world, as people have been at all different stages from lockdowns and quarantine. 

According to recent studies conducted by Headspace, young Australians are fearful and uncertain about their future. 

Young people who identify as LGBTQI are more likely to feel that their mental health has suffered than those who do not identify as LGBTQI.

Star Observer spoke with some young people from the community in regards to the impact of COVID-19 on their mental health. 

One of these members, Matthew King said that COVID-19 has changed his views, to reflect on life and what makes him happy, such as moving away from materialistic things to instead focusing and replacing these with the importance of family and friends. 

Matthew said, “For me personally, it’s been particularly difficult to meet with LGBTQI friends as many have gone back home to environments where it’s not so LGBTQI friendly. It is also difficult to put yourself out there as there are now less places to meet people and we’ve mostly had to resort to online dating apps (e.g. Tinder and Grindr) which for me can feel unsafe and superficial. For me, these dating apps tend to reinforce the importance of body image which can be unhealthy for self-esteem and mental health.

“I think COVID-19 will bring greater instability and uncertainty for many of our futures. It’s difficult to look ahead as we don’t know what our job prospects will look like in the future and when we’ll be able to go travelling again. It is also difficult to know what life will be like after COVID-19 and knowing if my life goals are compatible with the “new-normal.

“COVID-19 has really dried up my employment prospects whilst I am studying, which has made it increasingly difficult to be financially independent. It has also made me greatly concerned about my ability to achieve my future career goals as there are less internships and graduate jobs available.”

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 Another person from the community Jonathan spoke with us, saying that it has been an extremely difficult time for him also. The lockdown period has impacted his positive views on the world with the future on the global scale quite confronting, he believes that we are in the land of the unknown. 

Jonathan mentioned his anxiety levels have gone up during this time because of uncertainty in regards to what Australia is going to look like in the future.

“The fear and uncertainty of not knowing what the future will look like is quite anxiety riddling.

“I would go out alone sometimes to make new friends and other times I would go with current friends. It is where I could find other like minded people to mingle with, network and meet up. It has been difficult for me as I no longer have that option. I already found it hard to network being a gay male and this has definitely made it even more difficult. I have reverted to online applications such as Zoom and FaceTime, but it is just not the same.”

The Headspace study showed that 53% of people who identify as being part of the LBGTQI community have not considered seeking out professional support from a mental health professional during this time. 

While 60% of young people feel that their mental health has become worse since the outbreak of the pandemic. 

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 According to Headspace CEO Jason Trethowan, these results not only reflect the current mental health status of young Australians, but raised serious concerns for future wellbeing. 

“We know young people are concerned about what their future looks like and how the current climate is impacting their ability to achieve their goals. This sense of fear and uncertainty has the potential to be quite significant and it’s critically important that any young person going through a tough time can and does access support. 

“We can see from the research that COVID-19 has had significant negative short-term impacts for young people when it comes to things like study, interactions with friends, work situation and mood. But the long term impacts have the potential to be much greater,” said Trethowan.

This week Headspace is launching a new digital awareness campaign “together we’ve got this,” which aims to support the mental health of young people and their parents as we move through the COVID-19 pandemic.

For more information visit www.headspace.org.au/tips

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