Date of Award

Fall 2022

Document Type

Open Access Thesis



First Advisor

Bret Kloos


Guided by interpretative phenomenological methodology and intersectionality theory, this thesis aims to uncover the mental health experiences of youth surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic. This study also seeks to situate these experiences with the subsequent stressors that young people face in the current social-political context (e.g., witnessing trauma in the media, uprisings to address racism and the resulting backlash, rhetoric of the 2020 presidential election). Furthermore, this thesis aims to give insight and voice how intersectionality shapes the COVID-19-related experiences of youth in South Carolina. Data was collected through semi-structured interviews with 23 participants aged 16-21 years old in South Carolina. Findings reveal the mental health experiences of youth during the COVID-19 pandemic including a concern for self (e.g., increased mental stress from the closing of schools) and social-political conditions (e.g., 2020 presidential election, uprisings to address racism). Findings also reveal that identities and systems of power and oppression shaped youth’s experiences during the pandemic and social-political context (e.g., witnessing social injustices). Finally, young people bring to light the ways they were able to thrive, resist, and take care of their well-being both during the pandemic and in related social-political context including mental health habits (e.g., therapy), physical health habits (e.g., exercise), social media, and social support. This thesis also acknowledges participants lived experiences, ideas, and solutions to inform mental health support (e.g., policies, programs, and practices) for youth during and beyond the pandemic.


© 2022, Magdalena S. Moskal