Youth Experiences in Virtual Mentorship Programs During COVID-19




Grohovac, Rachel

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"Background. During the pandemic, estimates of depression and anxiety among youth doubled, and services were disrupted. Research shows mentorship to be protective of youth mental health, suggesting its viability as a low-cost method to support youth. Big Brothers Big Sisters Canada (BBBSC) runs free mentorship programs for youth and, during the pandemic, matches used technology to continue communication. The present study investigates how BBBSC mentees experienced this transition to virtual or hybrid services using a qualitative approach.  Methods. Mentees (ages 12-18) were self-selected by a parent who completed a brief demographic survey. Select mentees (n = 7) participated in a semi-structured interview via Zoom about how they connected with their mentors, their experience communicating via technology, and their level of responsibility in their match. Thematic analysis will be used to analyze the interview transcripts.  Analysis and results. Data analyses are still in progress; however, it is expected that technology may have posed barriers to connection in mentorship relationships. Mentees may also report both benefits and drawbacks of communicating via technology.  Conclusions. Findings will address the feasibility of virtual mentorship programs and describe the benefits and barriers to the connection which will guide organizations and policymakers to maximize benefits for youth."



mentorship, youth, qualitative analysis, COVID-19, mental health, thematic analysis