Led by Drs. Lara Gunderson and Daniel Shattuck, the “Supporting At-Home Sexual and Gender Minority Youth” (SASY) pilot project is assessing the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and social distancing mandates on the mental health of sexual and gender minority youth (SGMY) in New Mexico in real time as the pandemic progresses. This research is an excellent example of leadership by PIRE’s scientists in the rapid response required to address currently evolving health disparities. Sexual and gender minority youth are already at higher risk of depression, anxiety, substance use, and suicidality due to systematic discrimination now coupled with the closure of educational institutions that had previously facilitated positive school-based connections for SGMY with trusted adults and supportive peers and participation in extracurricular activities.
This mixed methods study utilizes a state-wide survey with SGMY ages 13-21 and in-depth qualitative interviews to collect real-time data of how SGMY are affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, locating new resiliency factors as well as exacerbated stressors. Of particular interest is how peers, family members, school staff, and mental health providers attempt to address and support SGMY during a time when traditional methods are either not available or extremely limited. The ultimate goal of this research is to help improve supports for SGMY during social isolation and mitigate risks of negative mental health outcomes like substance misuse, depression, self-harm, and suicidality.
PIRE-Albuquerque has partnered with the New Mexico Genders and Sexualities Alliance Network to facilitate recruitment and dissemination of findings to key audiences including SGMY themselves, their peers and families, school and mental health professionals, and other SGMY-focused advocacy/support organizations.
For Covid-19 related resources please see the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.