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Research Snapshot: COVID-19 impacts among 2SLGBTQ+ youth experiencing homelessness

What is this research about?

2SLGBTQ+ youth experience significantly higher rates of mental health issues compared to heterosexual and cisgender youth, due to stigma, discrimination and identity-based rejection. During the COVID-19 pandemic, 2SLGBTQ+ youth are experiencing these stressors in increased and new ways, which are seeming to have devastating effects for this population. For example, due to a lack of alternative housing options heightened by the pandemic, some youth have been forced to isolate at home with unsupportive and abusive family members. A number of youth have also had difficulties receiving the support they rely on or accessing new services, as these crisis services have had to close their doors or limit the number of clients they can serve due to COVID-19 restrictions.

This study examined the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on 2SLGBTQ+ youth at risk of, and experiencing, homelessness in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) and surrounding areas in Ontario, Canada, to understand the specific challenges, coping strategies and mental health responses of this group during the COVID-19 pandemic.

What you need to know

2SLGBTQ+ youth make up 20%–40% of the homeless youth population in North America. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and public health measures, there has been a lack of safe and inclusive housing options, and limited access to health care and social supports. This has impacted the mental health of 2SLGBTQ+ youth at risk of, and experiencing, homelessness, increasing suicidality, depression, anxiety and substance use.

Efforts are required to ensure that inclusive and affirming health care and support services are accessible to 2SLGBTQ+ youth experiencing homelessness and to those unable to access services virtually. Preventive and longer-term specialized mental health support and treatment, in addition to emergency/crisis services, are also required.

Read the full Research Snapshot in English and in French.

Research Snapshots are brief, clear language summaries of research articles, presented in a user-friendly format.

This Research Snapshot is based on the article “Investigating the impacts of COVID-19 among LGBTQ2S youth experiencing homelessness” published in PLOS ONE in 2021.

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