On Feb. 18, UHMP hosted a focus group for LGBTQ+ youth addressing mental health within the LGBTQ+ community. Students were encouraged to speak openly about the positive and negative health experiences specific to the LGBTQ+ community and what factors contribute to either outcome., The young people were extremely open to sharing their experiences.
We held a large virtual group discussion, as well as smaller groups, to really dig into some of the story ideas that came from our conversation. Just a few highlighted topics included disparities in healthcare, the isolation brought about by the pandemic, the impact of religious beliefs about sexual orientation and gender identity and poor representation in the media. Several of the participants are now working on projects that sprang from the discussions, including new friends from Cleveland and Newport News, Virginia who are examining the additional challenges faced by LGBTQ+ youth with learning disabilities. Most of the participants agreed to stay with us and contribute writing, photography, their ideas, and much more. We are continuing to ask these young participants - who were very eager to share their perspectives - and other young people who are of color and/or LGBTQ+ how they want to use their multimedia talents to tell stories about mental health.
Our CEO met with the LGBTQ+ online and print newspaper Washington Blade - which also publishes the LA Blade - and the publication will be running our mental health content. A special youth mental health Blade edition, produced by UHMP students, is already being planned. So stay tuned for more about our work with these LGBTQ+ youth and to read, watch and listen to the content they produce.