Boys & Girls Village (BGV) received funding from the Connecticut Department of Children and Families (DCF) to launch a new adolescent support program: the Youth Link Mentoring Program. The initiative will provide mentoring support for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Queer or Questioning, Intersex and Asexual (LGBTQIA+) youth.
According to the National Alliance of Mental Illness, research shows that members of the LGBTQIA+ community are at a higher risk for experiencing mental health conditions. Youth in this community experience larger rates of discrimination, threats, trauma, and family rejection than the population as a whole, creating a risk for worsened mental health symptoms and behavioral health issues.
With offices in Milford, Norwalk, Bridgeport, and Waterbury, BGV is a leading provider of behavioral, educational, vocational, and permanency planning services for Connecticut's most vulnerable youth and their families. The organization has vast experience working with the LGBTQIA+ population, successfully engaging them in a variety of their programs.
The new Youth Link Mentoring Program will seek to develop positive, long-term, safe, and affirming relationships between adolescents and caring adults who serve as trained mentors. LGBTQIA+, cisgender or gender non-conforming youth ages 14-21 years old will be supported through the program, with a goal of helping up to 25 youth at any of BGV's 4 locations.
"Vulnerable teens and young adults who have experienced rejection based on their identity are in critical need of safe and supportive adult relationships. With the acceptance and concern of an adult mentor invested in their well-being, this program will have lifelong positive effects for LGBTQIA+ youth," said Kim Shaunesey, Ph.D., Boys & Girls Village President and CEO.
Additionally, because substance misuse, which may be a coping strategy, is a significant concern for members of LGBTQIA+ community, the Youth Link Mentoring Program will also support youth with substance use issues by connecting them with Recovery Support Specialists.
"This program helps to address the unique challenges faced by LGBTQIA+ youth in DCF services. Through meaningful and supportive adult relationships, these young people will be better equipped to face these challenges and thrive," said Carra Conlan, BGV Vice President of Community Services & Quality Management.