Samantha Davis, CCLS
Levine Children's Hospital, Charlotte, NC
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, society has experienced a myriad of stressors, such as social isolation, loss of direct human contact, loss of structure/routine, and an immense fear of the unknown. However, specific populations, such as LGBTQ+ youth and adolescents, have experienced more unique stressors.
A recent study, titled “I’m Kinda Stuck at Home With Unsupportive Parents Right Now: LGBTQ Youths' Experiences With COVID-19 and the Importance of Online Support”, explored the unique stressors and experiences that LGBTQ youth experienced during COVID-19 in the Spring of 2020. This study “highlight(ed) the importance of synchronous, text-based online platforms to enable LGBTQ youth to feel safe to seek support while at home” (Fish et al., 2020, p. 450). There are many contributing factors to the stressors this population faces while being confined to their homes, including being unable to access support or supportive resources during the global pandemic. COVID-19 impacts have exacerbated social and health inequalities within society, and the LGBTQ youth population is at a greater risk of poor mental health and well-being outcomes when compared to their non-LGBTQ peers (Fish et al., 2020).
This study found the following for LGBTQ Youth and Adolescents:
Challenges to Support:
- Intrapersonal challenges: Time “just to think” leading to rumination of their sexuality/gender being burdensome.
- Interpersonal challenges: Being stuck at home with unsupportive parents.
- Structural challenges: Limited access to community-based organizations.
Opportunity for Improvement of Support:
- The importance of online support/resources: Text-based online platforms are ideal for youth seeking support while not being overheard by unsupportive family members. (Fish, et al., 2020). The study's most impactful finding was that an online text-based platform with chatting capabilities is most beneficial for LGBTQ youth during the global pandemic, as it allows for enhancing youth’s safety while seeking support during isolation, limits being overheard by unsupportive family members, and allows for a safe space without fear of contracting/spreading COVID-19.
It is imperative that all psychosocial and mental health professionals are aware of these effects and resources when working with children and families. In times where we cannot be physically present with one another, technology can play a role in creating supportive communities. Various resources, such as local and national online support groups like GLAAD, The Trevor Project, and the Safe Zone Project, are organizations that LGBTQ youth and adolescents can benefit from. Adding a shared list of resources for LGBTQ youth in your department, as well as education on these resources, could be beneficial in providing the best support to patients and families—especially throughout isolation during the global pandemic.
Fish, J. N., Mcinroy, L. B., Paceley, M. S., Williams, N. D., Henderson, S., Levine, D. S., & Edsall, R. N. (2020). I'm kinda stuck at home with unsupportive parents right now: LGBTQ youths experiences with COVID-19 and the importance of online support. Journal of Adolescent Health, 67(3), 450-452. doi:10.1016/j.jadohealth.2020.06.002