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Journal of Adolescent Health ; 70(4):S30, 2022.
Article in English | EMBASE | ID: covidwho-1936666


Purpose: Compared to cisgender peers, gender diverse youth (GDY) face significant mental health disparities. Parent affirmation reduces these disparities, but there are few evidence-based support programs for parents of GDY and none centered on 1:1 parent peer support, which has shown promise in other pediatric settings. This study aimed to evaluate a 1:1 peer mentor program for parents of GDY, the Parent Outreach Program (POP). Methods: We created anonymous online surveys consisting of open-ended questions about the POP distributed via email to program mentors (parents providing support) and mentees (parents receiving support). Participants were asked why they became involved, benefits and challenges, and how this program compared to others they had participated in. Open-ended responses were coded by two authors using two iteratively developed codebooks (one each for mentors and mentees);codes were adjudicated to consensus and key themes were identified for both participant types. Results: In total, 20 participants (6 mentors, 14 mentees) completed parallel surveys. Themes identified for mentors included feeling giving back was important, their mentoring experience, challenges, and personal growth resulting from being a mentor. Mentors wanted to help other families, “[POP was] rewarding in knowing that by helping the parents you can ultimately help the kids”. They shared logistical challenges like “coordinating schedules” as well as the potential for conversations to be triggering;“Sometimes it brings up a memory of my own family that evokes an emotion”. Mentors also noted their participation was a positive experience: “[POP] offers us the opportunity to grow in our knowledge and feelings in regard to our own child”. Themes identified for mentees included the importance of finding community through the POP, receiving education, relating to their mentors, practical considerations, and qualities of a good mentor. Parent mentees shared relief in finding a “sense of community”;as one mentee said, “It was a lifeline to some sanity”. They also noted that the POP gave them specialized information and that they connected with mentors based on shared experiences: “We craved parents with a true understanding of the many feelings, changes, activities…”. They addressed practical considerations like the intimacy of 1:1 support and that recommendations from a provider mattered to them: “This [program] is more intimate and focused on our stories;” “When the social worker offered it, I had no doubt.” Mentees stressed that mentors “being non-judgmental, willing to listen” was critical. All mentees noted that they would recommend POP to other parents. Conclusions: Both parent mentors and mentees shared that 1:1 peer support was valuable and allowed mentors to give back and experience personal growth, while providing community and resources to mentees who were struggling to understand and support their GDY’s journey. The POP also provides an alternative to large support groups given the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. This program and others offering 1:1 parent peer support may fill an important gap in supporting parents of GDY, ultimately improving mental health outcomes for their young people. Sources of Support: Dr. Kidd was supported by the National Center for Advancing Translational Science of the NIH, Award Number TL1TR001858.