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imi to Receive 2022 Healthy Teen Network Innovation Award
imi is an innovative free, digital tool designed with and for LGBTQ+ youth explore and affirm their identity and learn to cope with stress…and it’s proven effective!
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August 26, 2022

Healthy Teen Network is pleased to announce imi as winner of the 2022 Innovation Award. (Learn more about our awards and past awardees on our conference website.)

imi (pronounced eye-me) is a free, digital, research-backed mental health tool for LGBTQ+ youth. The tool was designed with and for LGBTQ+ teens, with an intentional focus on BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color), transgender, non-binary, and gender nonconforming youth. imi helps LGBTQ+ youth explore and affirm their identity and learn practical approaches to cope with stress.

Photo of Janet Max

When asked about the motivation behind building this tool, the imi team shared: “[We were] motivated by the alarming disparities that LGBTQ+ youth experience and further motivated by the growing mental health crisis in recent years that unfortunately has been accompanied by an increase in harmful messaging coming from political and other homophobic and transphobic systems. This current environment is expected to exacerbate the already high risk of isolation, mental health issues, and suicide among LGBTQ+ teens.”

imi is needed now, more than ever. Research consistently finds that LGBTQ+ youth who have access to spaces that affirm their sexual orientation and gender identity report lower rates of attempted suicide. imiresponds to the need for safe, accessible, and research-backed support within a digital mental health ecosystem so LGBTQ+ youth can freely explore and embrace their sense of self. BIPOC and LGBTQ+ youth desire a more accepting, inclusive, and just world – where they can express themselves without judgment, harassment, or discrimination.

imi responds to the need for safe, accessible, and research-backed support within a digital mental health ecosystem so LGBTQ+ youth can freely explore and embrace their sense of self. BIPOC and LGBTQ+ youth desire a more accepting, inclusive, and just world – where they can express themselves without judgment, harassment, or discrimination.

The creation of imi was a labor of love. Hope Lab, CenterLink, the It Gets Better Project, and hundreds of LGBTQ+ youth played an active role in conceptualizing and co-designing the final product. “Creating something that truly works cannot happen without involving the people who eventually use it. With that in mind, we designed imi with and for LGBTQ+ teens from across the country. Our co-design and research process focused specifically on QTBIPOC teens (Queer, Trans, Black, Indigenous, and People of Color). The input of the queer community helped the product evolve into what it is today—the guides incorporate stories, illustrations, original artwork, and activities that provide support as teens explore and affirm their identities and learn practical ways to cope with stress….We were thrilled to see the results of the randomized controlled trial of imi showing that the tool supports LGBTQ teens in their ability to cope with stress.”

The entire team is honored to have imi be the recipient of Healthy Teen Network’s 2022 Innovation Award. Innovation helps us create solutions to meet the ever-changing lives of young people. imi embodies all that we look for in innovation, as a creative and youth-centered approach to problem-solving that starts with young people and ends with an innovative tool tailor-made to meet their needs. With the Innovation Award, we celebrate solutions that can promote equity, reduce health disparities, and be inclusive and affirming of the needs of all young people.

Healthy Teen Network will present imi with the 2022 Innovation Award at #HealthyTeen22, our annual national conference, to be held October 17-19. Join us in Miami as we Dare to Dream of a New Era, where Deborah Levine, Director of LGBT YouthLink at CenterLink will accept the award on the team’s behalf. She shared: “We are very proud of the work, but we are mostly very appreciative of the additional opportunity to share imi with even more LGBTQ+ youth.” And last, but certainly not least, to all of the LGBTQ+ youth out there, the imi team has a message for you: “You are seen, you are heard, you are affirmed, and you are loved.” Here, here to that!

At Healthy Teen Network, we believe that every young person has a right to live their authentic sexuality. And we see you, the professionals and caring adults, helping them do this. We know you do your best when you're connected to great opportunities and resources. That's why we're here...to help make those connections and support you. Read more about us.