It’s hard enough being gay in Asia, where many cultures and societies don’t accept or merely tolerate homosexuality. All that anxiety of being outed, or worse targeted or penalised somehow, can be stressful and damaging for someone’s mental health.
Throw Covid-19 into the mix and it’s practically a mental health crisis waiting to happen.
Even before the pandemic began, LGBTQ people “had issues associated with their mental and emotional health in a greater proportion than the general population,” according to UNAids, a United Nations agency tasked to fight global Aids.
These issues can manifest in depression, anxiety, and even suicidal thoughts, which may be worsened by “confinement in solitude or in family groups where they may experience gender violence,” the agency added.
In the United States, Rob Todaro, who is the communications manager for the Trevor Project, which operates a 24-hour crisis hotline for LGBTQ youth, said that in a recent Morning Consult survey, one-third of LGBTQ people said they couldn’t be themselves at home, and one-third of transgender and nonbinary youth felt unsafe with their life situation since the beginning of the pandemic.
If your mental and emotional health has suffered during the pandemic, here’s some advice that could help you and help guide families, caregivers and other supporters.
Find your support network
Reach out to friends and family around your age or life-stage who understands what you’re doing through. These people can be gay or straight, or others who share common interests as you. The last thing you want to do is to isolate yourself, even if you believe you are strong enough to weather the pandemic.
If you can’t physically meet up, send texts or arrange for video calls. These positive connections are vital to our mental wellness and can help to fight back feelings of loneliness and depression.
Create a routine
In times of uncertainty, it always helps to set up some kind of routine for yourself. A daily schedule is helpful – especially for freelancers who may or may not have regular work hours.
A routine can provide structure and a sense of certainty, which can help to reduce anxiety about the unknown. For me, I like to start my day with a light meditation of 15 minutes, some stretching and reading before I proceed to my writing and editing.
In the afternoons, I put aside a couple of hours for working out and I aim to get to bed by 11pm.
Connect with nature
I’ve written about this before here, and this is a great way to get out of your own head. If you can, find some friends to do some activities with you outdoors, like a hike or yoga. Meditation helps too.