What challenging times we find ourselves living in. It’s very easy to find our stress buckets reaching capacity; for some they are overflowing. As the Acting CEO of Star Health, a community health service that proudly provides support to many members of the LGBTQI community, I see the impact that the current pandemic is having on vulnerable members of our LGBTQI community.

The pandemic has added a lot of extra pressures and worries to our lives. We all carry metaphorical buckets around with us. Each new stress in our life is like adding a cup of water to our bucket. It has space for a few worries at a time. When it becomes too full we may find ourselves reaching our limits. At times we all need to get help to manage the weight of it and there are always people willing to help share the load.

Even with the limitations that have been placed on our lives, for the time being, there are things we can all do to make space in our buckets. I find myself taking walks, trying to watch what I eat, catching up on the phone with loved ones and exercising; any exercise is effective in helping to boost our mental health. Misinformation is being spread across social media platforms which, if we get drawn into it, can compound our worries. One of the best things we can do is to stay informed using reputable sources for information and news, taking time out and not obsessing about it. The Victorian Health and Human Services webpage is regularly updated with facts.

COVID-19 is no doubt having a disproportionate effect on members of the LGBTQI community. Our community is already more likely to experience stress and trauma related anxiety due to the stigma and discrimination that is still endemic in our society despite much that has been gained. Add the stress of the pandemic to the challenges of growing-up, establishing your identity and navigating life in general, and suddenly life has become even harder for younger people who identify as LGBTQI. It is totally understandable if you find yourself experiencing extreme feelings due to the restrictions COVID-19 has placed upon us. The first thing to remember is that you are not alone.

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 However, if you find yourself feeling overwhelmed or lonely please remember there are support groups and networks out there to help.

Being a listening ear and helping someone to reach out for support could be life changing. Small, kind gestures can take some stress away, providing them with means to cope, so that the overflowing of their buckets can be steadied, and the burden of weight reduced.

Now more than ever young LGBTQI people need to be encouraged to access mental health support if they are feeling overwhelmed. We need to keep an eye on each other and help guide our loved ones to support if they are struggling. We need to seek help too and lean on the support of others if we are finding it hard to cope. There are many programs; some are led by peers, that will be able to help. They may be able to provide valuable advice, connect you to another source of help or assist in providing safety. 

Never forget we are in this together. Help is out there. Often it is just a short conversation away.

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