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Mentoring in the Time of COVID-19: An Analysis of Online Focus Groups with Mentors to Youth

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posted on 2022-05-17, 03:42 authored by MR Kaufman, K Wright, J Simon, G Edwards, Johannes ThrulJohannes Thrul, DL DuBois
This study explored the experiences of mentors to youth during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic. The study aims were to examine (1) the role of the pandemic on mentor–mentee interactions and relationships and (2) the ways in which mentors could be supported during the health crisis to better meet youth needs. Six online focus groups were conducted with 39 mentors. Mentor participants included 26 females and 11 males (two did not disclose gender), and 51% identified as white. Any mentor currently in a mentoring relationship, regardless of type, was eligible. Using Facebook groups, moderators posted questions and prompts, and mentor participants responded using textual comments. The text from each group was recorded, extracted, and coded and analyzed using thematic analysis. As mentors transitioned to a primarily online format, text and video chat became the most common communication methods. Mentees’ access to technology and privacy were the biggest challenges faced. Mentor concerns for their mentees varied, including mental health, school, family finances, and access to instrumental support and food. Mentor help involved routinely connecting with mentees and providing academic support. Mentors requested ideas and resources for connecting with mentees and an online mentor support group. During the early weeks of the pandemic, mentors continued to engage with mentees, offering valuable support during a confusing and scary time. Mentoring programs can broaden their approach, intentionally integrating online connecting in an effort to provide safe, appropriate, and continued support to both mentors and mentees.


Thank you to MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership and MENTOR Maryland | DC for their support of this work. Research reported in this publication was supported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number K01DA042138. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.


Publication Date



American Journal of Community Psychology






(p. 33-45)





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© 2021 The Authors. American Journal of Community Psychology published by Wiley Periodicals LLC on behalf of Society for Community Research and Action This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.