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“She Finally Smiles… For Real”: Reducing Depression and Bolstering Resilience Through Self-Affirmation in LGBTQ Youth

Mon, May 29, 17:00 to 18:15, Hilton San Diego Bayfront, Floor: 3, Aqua 303

Abstract

LGBTQ youth face well-documented health disparities, such as depression. Many develop resilience despite challenges, yet much remains unknown about depression and resilience mechanisms in youth. In pilot Study 1 (N = 102), a two-group pretest-posttest design evaluated the effects of a leadership camp on LGBTQ youth ages 12 to 20. Results showed campers experienced greater increases in self-affirmation and hope, and mediation analyses found self-affirmation mediated the relationships between condition and depression and resilience. While change in hope was high (perhaps at ceiling) for campers, non-campers experiencing a high change in hope approached campers’ level of self-affirmation. A stepwise regression revealed aspirational identification with program counselors as the main driver of self-affirmation. In Study 2 (N = 54), a post-camp survey assessed parents’ perceptions of changes in their child. Findings validated Study 1. This study elucidates underexplored psychological links, demonstrating the potential for affirming programs to improve immediate well-being and long-term resilience.

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