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2SLGBTQ+ Communities Hard Hit by COVID - Impacts on Mental Health and Substance Use

Released: Tuesday August 9, 2022 (OTTAWA, ON)
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A series of Leger national surveys conducted during COVID-19 found that 2SLGBTQ+ communities across Canada have been disproportionately impacted by pandemic-related substance use and other mental health issues. 2SLGBTQ+ respondents reported having symptoms of anxiety, depression and thoughts of suicide at rates far higher than the general population. Only one in five 2SLGBTQ+ racialized respondents reported excellent or very good mental health.

The report also found that about 30 per cent of 2SLGBTQ+ respondents who consume alcohol reported increased consumption since the start of the pandemic, a rate 50 per cent higher than among non-2SLGBTQ+ respondents. About 20 per cent of 2SLGBTQ+ respondents who use cannabis reported using more, double the rate among non-2SLGBTQ+ respondents.

2SLGBTQ+ youth reported being particularly impacted in terms of mental health and substance use. The polling found 60 per cent of 2SLGBTQ+ youth (16-24) reported moderate to severe anxiety symptoms during the pandemic; about 40 per cent reported symptoms of depression; and almost 30 per cent reported thoughts of suicide since the start of the pandemic.

"We are sharing this report as Pride celebrations occur this summer to acknowledge that 2SLGBTQ+ communities have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic due to increases in social, political, and economic inequities. However, we must take pride in knowing that 2SLGBTQ+ communities are resilient, strong, hopeful, accepting, and inclusive." — Michel Rodrigue, president and CEO, Mental Health Commission of Canada

"These findings highlight the importance of continued investments in creating culturally safe environments and practices in substance use and mental health services and supports for 2SLGBTQ+ communities. It also underscores the need to build capacity and competency, and to address barriers to access." — Rita Notarandrea, CEO, Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction

Additional findings:

1 in 4 (24%) 2SLGBTQ+ respondents reported excellent/very good mental health during the pandemic, compared to nearly half of non-2SLGBTQ+ respondents (43%).

Almost half (46%) of 2SLGBTQ+ respondents reported moderate-to-severe anxiety symptoms, compared to just under a quarter (22%) of non-2SLGBTQ+ respondents.

Finances were cited as the top barrier for accessing both mental health and substance use services, and overall, 2SLGBTQ+ faced more barriers than non-2SLBTQ+ respondents in accessing mental health services.

30% of all 2SLGBTQ+ respondents and 40% of all 2SLBTQ+ youth reported accessing virtual mental health services since the start of the pandemic; fewer reported accessing in-person services.

The MHCC and CCSA tracked the relationship between mental health and substance use through Leger polls conducted during the pandemic.

On August 3, 2022, an expert panel will discuss the impacts of the pandemic on 2SLGBTQ+ communities mental health and substance use. For more information, click here.

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