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Fighting Teen Depression With Social Media


This project is a requirement of the GOA Abnormal Psychology Course. Using the process of design thinking, a challenge in the world of mental health was identified, interviews and research were undertaken, and a solution prototype was developed. Below you will find information about the identified area of concern and my proposed solution. Please feel free to provide feedback on this prototype, using questions such as “How might we…”, “What if….?”, “I wonder….”, “I like…”, and “I wish.” Keep the comments positive, please. For more information on the process of Design Thinking, click here.

BACKGROUND:

In today’s world, teens all across the country and around the world suffer from adolescent depression. Caused by a variety of sources these children are deeply affected by their depression and are more likely to harm themselves, others, or have some type of substance abuse problem. In modern society, there are many signs of depression that get left unnoticed. These include but are not limited to.

  • Poor performance in school
  • Withdrawal from friends and activities
  • Sadness and hopelessness
  • Lack of enthusiasm, energy or motivation
  • Anger and rage
  • Overreaction to criticism
  • Feelings of being unable to satisfy ideals
  • Poor self-esteem or guilt
  • Indecision, lack of concentration or forgetfulness
  • Restlessness and agitation
  • Changes in eating or sleeping patterns
  • Substance abuse
  • Problems with authority
  • Suicidal thoughts or actions

    Being able to recognize these symptoms and help those around you is a key point of what difference this post is trying to make. Whether you are friend or foe, family or person you have never met, you all should be obligated to help someone in need. I mean we are all humans, right? Shouldn’t we look after each other as human beings?

  • In 2015, an estimated 3 million adolescents aged 12 to 17 in the United States had at least one major depressive episode in the past year. This number represented 12.5% of the U.S. population aged 12 to 17. Seen below is a chart graphing the major depressive episodes of teens ages 12-17 based on a 12-month prevalence. This chart if organized by gender, age, and ethnicity.


THE CHALLENGE:

Suicide in the media

Too many times teen depression and suicide go under the rug, in order that schools are not under fire for their lack of involvement with the students. Media today portrays huge roles in the shifting of teen mental states. Media does not only create a false image of what teens should become, media is the perfect medium for bullying without consequences. In a study done by the University of Alberta, they conducted many observations within kids and social media. Their findings concluded that a good majority of teen suicides and depression was linked to some sort of social media outbreak. These kids between the ages of 12-18 can undergo the same amount of anxiety and depression seen from abuse victims. The media is not meant to be used in this way. In many ways social media and the internet allow us to do access so many more resources in our lives. Social media is here to stay but one way to help prevent depression in teens from this medium is to spread awareness through activities kids love to do. One of these activities is binge watching Netflix.

In a project produced by Selena Gomez, a Netflix series was created to spread awareness of suicide and to portray, the story of the book by Jay Asher tilted, Thirteen Reasons Why. In this story, you follow a girl named Hannah Baker who has killed herself and has left 13 cassette tapes of thirteen reasons why she killed herself. This powerful depiction of high school and it’s over glorification of every move you make speaks true to many teens. This show, although made for TV and enhanced to have a TV likeability, stays true to its core by trying to map out how all of the characters could have helped her. Here is the trailer.


THE SOLUTION:

Ways to help 

If any of these signs pass you by or anybody you know is undergoing a traumatic part of their life, help, you may just save someone’s life. Some basic ways of helping would be

  • Call the suicide Hotline at 1-800-273-8255
  • Talk about suicide to the person
  • Spread love and hope to those in dire need of it
  • Know who to go to if things can’t be helped by just you
  • Be an advocate by talking to your community about ways to help
  • Invite them to join you with friends or family
  • Make them feel wanted in this world

 

Using the media as a new frontier

Social media is an outlet that is so underused when it comes to teen suicide and depression. Social media is something looked as this horrid piece of society that only the worst of people put things out there. This is wrong, not all of social media is watching celebrities walk down the red carpet and the Kardashians fighting over who knows what. Social media is a wave of change. Just recently a group of social media idols gathered to use their following for good by creating a charity to send the starving Somalia people food. What started just as an idea turned into an explosion of help and their 1 million dollar goal was reached in less than a day. These are the types of movements celebrities should be doing with their image. These acts of kindness and acts of doing right with those less fortunate are what social media should be about. Even those with not a huge following can step in and help by spreading happiness to all around them. Simple things to do to spread awareness would be.

  • Give compliments online
  • Post happy pictures that make people smile
  • Make someone laugh
  • Let people know that they are wanted
  • Spread the word about happiness
  • Start the happiness effect
  • Ask others to join you

 

 

WHAT’S NEXT?

5 step plan to creating a wave of happiness

  1. Comment on 1 persons post or profile and say something nice about them in particular.
  2. Create your own post on whatever platform you like and include the hashtag #CreatePositivity
  3. Talk to people in person about your movement
  4. Get others to join
  5. Show them this quiz

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How many teens in the U.S. undergo some form of depression?

5%
18%
12.5%
25%

 

 

What Gender is More Likely to Take their Life?

Male
Female

 

What are the most common reasons for Teen Suicide?

School Work
Family and Friends
Bullying in person and Online
All of the Above

 

 

After this presentation, will you go and spread happiness on social media?

Yes
No

 

I ask you today to spread this list and quiz to all that you know. Tweet it, post it, screenshot it, anything but allow the world to be educated on those in need. The first step forward is this. It only takes one piece of grass to grow a whole field, and with time, we can make that field a reality.

 


SOURCES CITED:

10 Ways to Prevent Suicide 

http://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/2017/03/19/turkish-airlines-to-send-supplies-to-somalia-after-social-media_a_21902874/

http://www.livescience.com/51294-cyberbullying-social-media-teen-depression.html

http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/conditions/depression-teens

https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/prevalence/major-depression-among-adolescents.shtml

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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COMMENTS: 3
  1. April 27, 2017 by Kimberly Porto

    GREAT JOB! This is very informative. I really like the idea of using social media for good. You are right – we usually just hear about the negative effects of social media.

  2. April 28, 2017 by Gia DiRubba

    hey max! i really love all of your visuals on your page. I also really like how you tied “13 Reasons Why” into your project. good job!!

  3. May 01, 2017 by Haley P

    I really enjoyed your presentation and think that it provides a really unique perspective. Many people tend to focus on the negative aspects of social media, but I love how you highlighted the fact that social media can be used to promote happiness, positivity, and solidarity.

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