Source: The Authors/Placeit
Copyright: The Authors/Placeit
License: Licensed by the authors
- imi (pronounced as “eye-me”) was designed with and for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) youth to help them explore and affirm their identity and learn practical approaches to cope with sexual and gender minority stress in ways that are supportive, relevant, inclusive, and joyful.
- Data from a randomized control trial conducted by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania indicate that imi boosts positive coping skills and mindsets that are important for supporting the mental health of LGBTQ+ youth.
- These results suggest that imi may play an important role in helping LGBTQ+ teens cope with sexual and gender minority stress. imi may also help overcome access and engagement barriers faced by in-person interventions by being freely accessible on demand, scalable, and confidential.
San Francisco, California, Aug 1, 2022—Today, Hopelab published the findings of their study on the efficacy of imi, a free, research-backed, mental health web app developed by the innovation lab, in partnership with CenterLink, the It Gets Better Project, and hundreds of LGBTQ+ youth. Findings from a randomized controlled trial (RCT), conducted by researchers at Hopelab and University of Pennsylvania’s Program on Sexuality, Technology, and Action Research (PSTAR), show that imi boosts positive coping skills and mindsets that are important for supporting the mental health of LGBTQ+ youth.
imi, (pronounced “eye-me”) helps LGBTQ+ youth explore and affirm their identity and learn practical approaches to cope with sexual and gender minority stress in ways that are supportive, relevant, inclusive, and joyful. The web app provides affirming resources, activities, and stories of lived experiences from LGBTQ+ youth on important topics including stress, LGBTQ+ identity, internalized stigma, and gender identity and expression.
Data from the RCT indicate that imi is effective in supporting the well-being of LGBTQ+ youth. A diverse group of LGBTQ+ youth randomly assigned to receive imi reported significantly greater improvements in coping skills and significantly greater confidence in their coping abilities than youth randomly assigned to receive a web-based list of freely available, vetted resources for LGBTQ+ youth. These results suggest that imi may play an important role in helping LGBTQ+ teens cope with sexual and gender minority stress.
Investing in interventions that improve the resilience of sexual and gender minority youth is critical to their survival. Due to the stress arising from stigma and discrimination, LGBTQ+ youth are more than twice as likely to report feeling sad and hopeless, and more than three times as likely to have contemplated suicide than their straight and cisgendered peers. And these problems are further compounded for youth who face multiple sources of discrimination due to their race, ethnicity, or gender including bias, discrimination, and increased hate speech. We need to help LGBTQ+ young people – especially BIPOC youth – affirm their identities and manage stress using research-backed tools that they can freely access online, where they’re already seeking support. [Dr José Bauermeister, lead researcher]
While imi is neither a crisis tool, nor is it designed to help teens cope with suicidal thoughts, early data suggest that the interventions delivered through imi can boost positive coping skills and mindsets, which are critical supports for LGBTQ+ mental health over the long term.
imi is available for free at imi.guide.
To learn more about the new data, please visit this link.
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Hopelab is a social innovation lab and impact investor advancing entrepreneurs, research, digital health, and solutions that support and empower young people, especially those from historically underserved communities. The organization works to remove systemic barriers to youth mental health and emotional well-being through targeted social impact investments, hands-on design and research support for digital innovation, and translational science partnerships. Learn more at hopelab.org.
PSTAR advances research and intervention methods aimed at decreasing sexuality-related health disparities and improving equity for sexual and gender minority populations through innovative science and community engaged approaches. PSTAR is founded and directed by José A Bauermeister, PhD, MPH, who is the Albert M Greenfield Professor of Human Relations and Chair of the Department of Family and Community Health at the School of Nursing at the University of Pennsylvania. Learn more at https://www.pennpstar.org.
Bauermeister J, Choi SK, Bruehlman-Senecal E, et al. An Identity-Affirming Web Application to Help Sexual and Gender Minority Youth Cope With Minority Stress: Pilot Randomized Controlled Trial.
J Med Internet Res 2022;24(8):e39094