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Power In Our Truths: Three-quarters of Gen Z & Millennial Young People of Color Report COVID-Related Mental Health & Life Disruptions

January 22, 2024

PORTLAND, OR  — Today,  Justice + Joy National Collaborative, a gender and racial justice advocacy organization, and New York University’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development released Power In Our Truths: Girls & Gender-Expansive Young People of Color on the Impact of COVID-19. The report, the third in an issue series, provides fresh insight into the experiences, coping strategies, and disproportionate impact of the pandemic on the lives of girls and gender-expansive young people of color ages 14-30. 

According to the survey, more than three-quarters (76.7%) of respondents indicated that their lives had changed either moderately or extremely due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “It’s stressful, not just in your academic life but also in your personal life. Many of us are going through a crisis trying to re-figure ourselves again,” shared a 19-year-old Asian-American participant from Minnesota

Young people of color, particularly those from vulnerable backgrounds and multi-generational families, face renewed mental health struggles and economic stress as the resurgence of COVID variants and other respiratory infections threaten essential household stability and compromise their health, housing, employment, and educational futures. 

Major findings from the report include:

  • 77.6% Missed a school-related opportunity or experience.
  • 76.7% Reported moderate or extreme life change due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • 60.3% Developed new/worsening mental health challenges.
  • 36.4% Failed a class/grades dropped.
  • 32.2% Family’s basic needs were seriously threatened.
  • 25.6% Reported someone close to them passed away due to COVID.
  • 17.4% Took over teaching young relatives/children.


“The pandemic never ended,” said Dr. Jamelia N. Harris, Senior Director of Collaborative Research and Innovative Thought at Justice + Joy. “Girls and gender-expansive young people of color are still living in the echo of the COVID-19 virus. They are navigating grief and trauma from significant life disruptions while managing additional responsibilities in their families. The compounding of these shifts has major consequences on their mental health.”

Despite the hardships, Gen Z and young Millennials of color remained resilient and developed hobbies, pursued self-care practices, increased exercise and physical activities, and engaged with social and peer support groups to cope with COVID-19-related stress. 

“The changing circumstances as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic continue to transform the lives of the girls and gender-expansive youth we surveyed. This brief centers their perspectives and implores us to continue to find ways to support young people as they grow into adulthood,” added Dr. Lauren C. Mims, Assistant Professor of Applied Psychology at NYU Steinhardt. 



About Justice + Joy

Justice and Joy National Collaborative (Justice + Joy) is an intergenerational, gender, and racial justice advocacy and organizing nonprofit advancing social, economic, and political equity with and for girls, young women, and gender-expansive youth of color. Our goals are to achieve collective power to advance justice, establish affirming social narratives, and build ecosystems of support. We envision a world where all girls, young women, and gender-expansive youth of color can achieve their potential and live unapologetically liberated lives without fear of violence or injustice.


About the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development

Located in the heart of New York City’s Greenwich Village, NYU’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development prepares students for careers in the arts, education, health, media, and psychology. Since its founding in 1890, the Steinhardt School’s mission has been to expand human capacity through public service, global collaboration, research, scholarship, and practice. To learn more about NYU Steinhardt, visit


About Power In Our Truths

Power in Our Truths is a report series covering police violence, mental health, the impact of COVID-19, policy action, and solutions. In 2020, Justice + Joy held focus groups with over 400 girls and gender-expansive young people of color. Participating states include Alabama, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington, and Washington, D.C. The Power in Our Truth report series builds off these conversations through a research survey that included responses from 121 participants. Read more about the Power in Our Truth report series here. The COVID-19 Brief can be read here.


To learn more about the Power In Our Truth series (methodology, demographics, etc.), visit the project page here.

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