Coronavirus pandemic impacting transgender youth

Posted at 9:06 AM, Jan 06, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-07 16:17:45-05

The coronavirus pandemic has been tough, especially for those struggling with their mental health.

Last year in our Finding Hope series, Idaho News 6 introduced you to the Imagine program--which focuses on teen mental health. Now, they've expanded, and experts say it comes at a critical time for one group as continued isolation during the pandemic has mental health experts worried about transgender youth managing all the pressure.

The CDC says one in four young adults have struggled with suicidal thoughts since the coronavirus hit, and Imagine Program Director Daniel Griffin says for transgender youth that number is even more alarming.

"Studies are indicating as more data comes in, we're seeing a higher rate for suicide and self-harm amongst that population than almost any other concern in adolescence," Griffin said.

It's not just us in Idaho. Dr. Elyse Pine is a Maryland physician who specializes in trans youth issues. She says many trans youth are more comfortable at home, away from school environments where they might be bullied. But, for others, the isolation of virtual learning has been tough.

"They’re home and isolated and can’t meet with friends and it’s been very difficult in terms of depression and anxiety and struggling," Dr. Pine said.

Her advice to anyone struggling right now is to find someone to talk to. That's where teen-focused programs, like Imagine, come in. Griffin says his staff undergoes special training to help trans, nonbinary and gender-fluid teens.

"Adolescence is a trying time for a lot of people and families, and in the grips of COVID it's even worse," said Griffin. "I get my staff into training, a lot of clinicians in our company have taken specific training to offer care to that population specifically."

The program centers around an individualized approach for each patient, allowing them to self reflect and get to the actual root of their mental health issues.

"We don't operate from the perspective of 'you're trans, let's get you back to your birth sex' instead, we say 'you're experiencing depression because maybe society is treating you differently. so let's equip you--we're not going to change the path you walk but we'll prepare you for walking that path,'" Griffin explained.

If you or someone you know is struggling, please don't hesitate to reach out for help.

Here's a full list of resources for mental health and addiction treatment:

Idaho Suicide Prevention Hotline:

Phone: (208) 398-4357


Veteran's Crisis Line:

Phone: 1 (800) 273-8255 (PRESS 1), or you can text: 838255 to get help from professionals, 24/7.


Crisis Hotline:

Phone: 208-788-3596


Marimn Health:

Phone: 208-686-1931

St. Luke's Psychiatric Wellness Clinic:

Phone: 208-706-6375

211 Idaho Careline:

Phone: Dial 211 or 1-800-926-2588

Code 4 Northwest:

Phone: 425-243-5092

Crisis Intervention:

Phone: 208-334-0808

Addiction hotline:

Phone: (888) 659-7510


Idaho Department of Health and Welfare:


Phone lists:

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention