Anxiety and Depression in Teens
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.
Hi! My name is Caroline Durham and I am a sophomore at Savannah Country Day School. This project is incredibly important to me because my best friend suffered with very severe depression, and I want to help others like her. I was with her when someone as a joke, told her to go kill herself, which first of all, should never be a joke. I remember vividly the way she reacted, she was immediately upset, building to hysterics. What the boy who made that comment didn’t know was that she had been self harming for months, and had tried to hang herself once already. This is very important to me because I want to prevent this from happening to anyone else. It was scary for me to see how she reacted, but even scarier that someone would say something like that and never realize what a dramatic impact such a small comment like that had. I want to make people aware that their words really do matter because teen anxiety and depression is very common. Simply being aware and sensitive to the issues in the world around us can make a huge impact.
The goal of this project was to raise awareness of the high frequency in which teens struggle with anxiety and depression. I wanted to encourage people to be aware that this is a very real issue, so the teens suffering felt more comfortable getting help and sharing their stories. Another bonus to raising awareness is that people will be more aware of the affect their comments have, and will hopefully be more supportive and kind to everyone around them.
This is a very real issue on the Savannah Country Day School campus, we are a highly driven campus, which leads to a lot of stress and anxiety for the students. This is an issue I have seen and experienced first hand, as described in the previous section. It’s incredible that such a high amount of kids are suffering, not just on campus, but around the world, and how few people notice. So finding a solution to the high percentage of teens struggling with anxiety and depression and encouraging them to get the help they need is something that would make a big impact on the happiness and health of the world’s population. And the program is designed so it can be used anywhere around the world to help those in their community struggling with anxiety and depression.
To begin this process and to learn what made make the biggest impact I interviewed Margaret Shaver, a local therapist who works with teens from the area. She believes that chaotic family systems have the biggest influence on developing a disorder such as anxiety and depression, and that by having a good support system, one can prevent the development of these disorders. So I took this information, and came up with a plan to help create support systems for any teens, whether or not they have strong familial support or not. They just need something to hold on to while they are going through this tough time.
I designed these posters myself, and put them up around campus. I included powerful statistics, but more importantly how to get help. By simply making facts like these common place around campus, an impact is being made. Although people may not realize it, by seeing these posters everyday, they are absorbing the information I have to share. So one day, if they ever are in a situation when they need help, or they need to help a friend, they know how to. These posters are also designed specifically for my school, with statistics and quotes from the viewer’s peers, which makes the issue much more real and makes the posters have much more meaning than a generic poster. To get the statistics and quotes I sent out a survey to the entire upper school and used the data from the first 100 respondents. These posters could be created by anyone as long as someone takes a little time, so posters like this could have an amazing impact around the world.
IF YOU NEED HELP, USE THESE RESOURCES:
- 1-866-488-7386: The Trevor Project- a 24/7 crisis line for teens in the LGTBQ+ community suffering with severe depression and suicidal thoughts. The Trevor project also includes instant messaging as well as education
- 1-800-273-8255: The National suicide prevention line available 24/7
- http://bit.ly/2pbog7g: This is a small forum used for sharing stories to show that there is hope! Check it out if you need some inspiration!
- http://www.chatzy.com/therapy: This is another forum similar to the one above, but less formal and less public. Simply make an alias and log in! But of course, be safety conscious!
- Crisis Text Line: Simply text “home” to 741741 and be connected to a trained counselor, where you can either get help for yourself, or ask about how to help a struggling friend
What can you do to help?
When collecting statistics, I also asked the students what could be done on campus that would help solve our school community’s problems with anxiety or depression so our campus is more accepting, empathizing, and educated on getting help, and how they could be applied to campuses around the globe. I first asked my peers if they were comfortable getting help, and many said no because they felt like the teachers wouldn’t care, they thought they didn’t need help, or they thought they would be viewed as weak for needing help. Here are some ideas that came directly from the people struggling most with the stigma around mental health:
We could offer a program for student counseling rather than all teacher counseling- a student led support group so to speak
Offer a better education about mental health in our health courses so people will accept and acknowledge that this is a real issue and not people being over dramatic
- Have a trusted counselor on campus for students to go to if they need help
So while you may not have control over what counselor you get, you could be that leading student that steps forward and starts a support group, you could be the person creating posters and putting them up around school to better your community’s understanding of mental health, you could be the peer that people trust to encourage them when they are feeling down, you could be somebody’s hero simply by telling someone to stop making comments that continue the negative stigma of mental health that keeps students from getting they help they need due to embarrassment. Even the little things add up and you could make a big impact on not just the community, but individuals that are counting on you and your leadership.
Also, please feel free to leave any comments in the comment section below, I would love any feedback, to hear your stories, or whatever you have to share!
SOURCES CITED: National statistics