$600k grant fueling new LGBTQ+ initiative and partnership

Fueled by a $600,000 grant, the Lyda Hill Institute for Human Resilience at UCCS will partner with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln on a new project to benefit LGBTQ+ youth.

The project’s funding will come from the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), which awarded the grant to University of Nebraska-Lincoln with a subcontract to the Lyda Hill Institute for Human Resilience at UCCS.

According to Heather Littleton, associate professor of psychology at UCCS and the co-principal investigator on the grant, the project will help address dating violence and problem drinking – a set of problems that occur at high rates and can lead to depression and suicide among LGBTQ+ youth.

Heather Littleton

“This program is congruent with the mission of the Lyda Hill Institute in that a key focus is on reducing LGBTQ+ youth’s risk for dating violence and problem drinking via increasing resilience factors, including a sense of positive identity, connection to a LGBTQ+ community, and healthy communication skills,” Littleton said.

Littleton will partner with Katie Edwards, associate professor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, to create a program for teens between 15 and 18 years old which will build resilience through 45-minute telehealth sessions led by facilitators. LGBTQ+ youth and experts in the field will contribute to the creation of the sessions.

“If this program is successful, it can be implemented in a variety of settings around the country,” Littleton said.

The duo will look to reduce stress and bolster a sense of community among youths in the program, all while building skills to promote healthy dating relationships and wise decisions with the goal of reducing rates of dating violence, problem drinking and suicidal thoughts.

Littleton said the program will roll out to 200 youths nationwide. It will keep youth engaged through the use of games, videos, breakout rooms and other experimental activities.

“Often, people don’t finish click-through programs,” Littleton said. “There has to be some level of human interaction. You can have the greatest intervention in the world, but if there’s no human touch, it won’t help. People will log in once and won’t be motivated to complete the program.”

The targeted nature of the program, homing in on alcohol and dating violence, is a new method, Littleton said. She hopes the program, once implemented, will save lives.

Learn more about the Lyda Hill Institute for Human Resilience online.