N.B. sociology professor bridges generation gap for LGBTQ youth

·2 min read
Erin Fredericks is a sociology professor at St. Thomas University in Fredericton.
Erin Fredericks is a sociology professor at St. Thomas University in Fredericton.

(Submitted by St. Thomas University - image credit)

A sociology professor at St. Thomas University in Fredericton and her research team are pairing LGBTQ youth with elders from their community who survived the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s as a means of helping the youth cope with COVID-19.

The project, named We've Survived Before: An Intergenerational, Youth-led Mental Health Intervention for LGBTQ+ Youth, will include an online workshop where LGBTQ elders share their stories and youth can ask them questions.

Erin Fredericks and her research team will use the information from elders to build a COVID-19 mental health support program for LGBTQ youth.

"Elders who lived through the AIDS epidemic learned a lot of lessons about community solidarity and community resilience and coming together in the face of fear and illness," said Fredericks.

"We really need youth from the LGBTQ+ community to understand the strength of the community that they come from."

A survey from The Canadian Mental Health Association suggests LGBTQ youth are suffering more from social isolation during COVID-19, and are more likely to endure serious mental health issues that lead to self-harm and drug abuse.

"We really wanted to respond to the increased need in our community," said Fredericks.

John Robertson/CBC
John Robertson/CBC

The project is funded by a $50,000 grant, provided in equal parts by Mental Health Research Canada and New Brunswick Research Foundation.

Fredericks said the project is in the research ethics approval stage, but hopes to put out an official recruitment call to the LGBTQ community by mid-March.

The workshop is planned from April until June, with a goal to launch the pilot program in September and have a finalized one by December.

Fredericks said her team will look for between five and 10 elders to participate in the project.

She said her team may look to create a program that pairs LGBTQ youth with elders one-on-one, if they notice a certain desire for that intergenerational connection through the initial project.

The program will be delivered through the not-for-profit Partners for Youth.