Breaking the Silence: Professor Nicole Racine's Recent Study Reveals Unprecedented Mental Health Crisis Among SGD Youth Post-COVID.

Dr. Nicole Racine, clinical psychologist and Assistant Professor in the School of Psychology at the Faculty of social sciences, and her collaborators, have made a significant contribution to understanding the mental health challenges faced by sexual and gender diverse (SGD) youth during the COVID-19 pandemic. The study is in collaboration with Dr. Ian Colman in the School of Epidemiology and Public Health and their students and trainees.

Professor Racine's research program at the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research Institute focuses on examining the impact of early childhood adversity on mental health and well-being, risk and resilience processes, and strategies to break the cycles of risk across generations.

In her latest study, Dr. Racine and her team conducted a comprehensive meta-analysis to determine the prevalence of mental health difficulties and substance use among SGD youth during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The findings are alarming. The meta-analysis, which included data from 10,500 participants across 19 studies, revealed that a staggering 61.8% of SGD youth experienced clinically elevated levels of depression, 55.4% had clinically elevated anxiety levels, and 50.9% contemplated suicide during the pandemic.

These rates are nearly twice as high as those reported for non-SGD youth during the same period, highlighting the disproportionate impact of the pandemic on this vulnerable population.

"Although pre-existing mental health disparities between SGD youth and heterosexual/cisgender youth existed prior to the pandemic, these disparities appear to have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic" explained Professor Racine.

The study cites several potential contributing factors, including decreased social support, limited access to community programs and gender-affirming healthcare, and increased isolation within potentially hostile or unaccepting home environments.

Professor Racine's research underscores the urgent need for targeted resource allocation and interventions to address the unique mental health needs of SGD youth. She emphasizes the importance of promoting affirming and safe environments, including online platforms, social media, schools, community organizations, and supportive policies.

This latest study serves as a powerful call to action, highlighting the critical need for targeted interventions and support systems to address the profound mental health crisis faced by SGD youth, particularly in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

To learn more about Professor Racine's groundbreaking work and its implications, explore her study in more depth which can be found on the LGBT Health journal.

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