Category Archives: Noteworthy Initiatives

SOVA Project Summer of Showing Up

At SOVA Project, we’ve really been falling in love with Brene Brown! In her book, Daring Greatly, Brene says:

“Courage starts with showing up and letting ourselves be seen.”

We’ve been trying to be courageous here at SOVA Project and we hope these small efforts are helping us move forward in a positive way!

Here are some of the recent ways we’ve let ourselves be seen:

We are happy to announce that our first SOVA paper will be published soon in the Journal of Technology in Human Services!

We had a great deal of fun participating in and being interviewed for the Reel Teens of Pittsburgh’s documentary on mental health stigma, featuring the Allegheny County Department of Human Services Stand Together program – who we have really enjoyed learning more and more about this year and hope to continue to work with. It was so inspiring for us to participate in advocating for mental health in the midst of positive, insightful, and motivated young people!

If you haven’t seen it, check out the video here below and learn more about the great award-winning work Stand Together does:

This past year, we’ve welcomed several new team members, including:

Cassandra Long, LSW our new moderator and main research assistant and Sharanya Bandla our new computer student who is also an undergraduate student at University of Pittsburgh. Also over the summer, Leah Wasser is a recently graduated student from Slippery Rock who is doing an excellent summer internship with us focused on reviewing the role of the moderator in online support groups – and helping us set up and create videos for our You Tube channel!

Here is a picture of Cassandra sharing our work with attendees at the recent NAMI conference on child mental health:

 

Don’t forget – SOVA and wiseSOVA have public blogposts you can read and share with anyone! If a young person or parent wants to log-on to comment, that is when they enter our study which currently is just observing how often they use the site and whether or not/what they comment – so feel free to share SOVA widely!

Stay tuned for more SOVA updates in the upcoming months and let us know if you have questions or feedback for us!

Support SOVA in Suicide Prevention

Hi SOVA stakeholders!

We are reposting this today in an effort to reach our fundraising goal! Please give at least $5 if you can – every little bit counts. Even $25 funds a suicide loss survivor attending their local International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day (ISOSL) event.

On August 27th, our team will be participating in the Out of Darkness Walk for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Funds raised by this walk go to funding suicide prevention advocacy, research like how risks in LGBT populations differ,  educational resources to prevent suicide in specific communities such as physicians and medical students, as well as resources and peer support for those affected by suicide.

Please donate and help us make a difference! If you are interested in joining our team, feel free to sign up! Thank you!

National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day

Capture3Today, SOVAproject joins more than 1,100 communities across the country in celebrating the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day to highlight the importance of children’s mental health. About a fifth of young people experience mental illness in a given year, but few get treatment. This year, organizations like the National Federation of Families for Children’s Mental Health are focusing on mental health being a family affair. Here at SOVAproject, we could not agree more, which is why we focus our interventions on adolescents AND parents. Our work has found that primary care providers feel parents are very important players in accessing mental health for adolescents.  We hope that our work in developing moderated online communities for parents and for adolescents to share their experiences regarding diagnosis and treatment will be part of the solution in helping them access the vital services they need to be healthy.

Capture2

Show your support for National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day by sharing this post or others:

National webcast tonight at 7 pm on Children’s Mental Health

Childcare aware of america

with your social media community.

 

Crisis Text Line

A year ago we posted about the development of the Crisis Text Line and how it’s a transformative tool for people to be able to text someone when they are in crisis. Since the Crisis Text Line’s inception, they have had 16,185,952 messages exchanged since August 1, 2013.

Which, as Nancy Lublin notes in her TED talk:

“That’s the volume, velocity and variety to provide a really juicy corpus. We can do things like predictive work. We can do all kinds of conclusions and learnings from that data set.So we can be better, and the world can be better.” 

Furthermore, CrisisTrends.org has been launched to share ALL THIS DATA with us! Crisis Trends aims to empower journalists, researchers, and citizens to understand the crises Americans face so we can work together to prevent future crises from happening. From the TED talk:

“This data is also making the world better because I’m sitting on the world’s first map of real-time crises.Think about it: those 6.5 million messages, auto-tagging through natural language processes, all of these data points — I can tell you that the worst day of the week for eating disorders: Monday. The worst time of day for substance abuse: 5am. And that Montana is a beautiful place to visit but you do not want to live there, because it is the number one state for suicidal ideation.”

From: CrisisTrends.org
From: CrisisTrends.org

With this information, we can know when people are most affected by certain mental health issues, and we can create better interventions.

Project Uplift

Last week when we attended the  NAMI Southwestern PA Annual Education Conference. One of the speakers was Zach Valenti. Zach is a filmmaker, Voice Actor, and Mental Health Activist who believes that the power of communication and mindfulness are life changing.

While an undergraduate, Zach studied film and what makes people “care” in a film setting. He used these skills and tools to interact with his fellow students at organized events and created a carnival around mental health awareness. He found that adding an element of fun, meeting people where they are and engaging naturally was the best way to reframe conversations around mental health.

He started Project Uplift in 2013 as a way to “gamify” stress reduction through a neurofeedback installation piece. He wanted to make mental health fun, and not a chore. Here’s his TEDx talk about how he came up with the idea for Project Uplift.

One thing Zach announced at the NAMI conference was that Project Uplift is Open Source – free for anyone to get the plans to make their own Uplift Tower. By wearing a headset and being guided through a simple breathing exercise, when the wearer relaxes, the brainwaves trigger the fan to lift up a globe themed beach ball. By going within and uplifting themselves, they are lifting up the world.

Zach’s speech reminded us that burnout is a real issue and that leadership starts with self-care.  We think that Project Uplift is a great initiative and we’re excited to share it with you!

NAMI Conference

This past Saturday a few people from our team went to the NAMI Southwestern PA Annual Education Conference! We took the SOVA FullSizeRenderproject with us! We had a table where we shared materials, talked about our project and made a lot of connections with other groups and individuals in Southwestern Pennsylvania. We hope that by spreading the word about our research study that we can get more youth and parents involved in developing this supportive online community!

At the conference we heard from many different speakers and IMG_0011panels about early onset psychosis, mental health and self care, and doing advocacy work! Be on the lookout over the next few weeks as we give you an update about what we learned!

 

 

Presenting for the first time ever, the SOVAProject Video!

Have you heard about the PInCh award? This year the University of Pittsburgh is sponsoring its 4th innovation challenge. During Round 1, teams are asked to submit a 2 minute video to:

  1. define a vital health problem
  2. propose a bold solution
  3. introduce our team members

This was tricky! but we managed to put it all together. My favorite part of this video is the clips of all of our wonderful team members – I am very proud and grateful for you all! This year Katrina has done an excellent job maintaining the SOVAproject blog to keep our stakeholders up to date with our progress and with interesting news about mental health in adolescents and technology.

Check it out below and let us know if you have any feedback! Wish us luck!

America’s Adolescents

More than 12 percent of people in the United States—almost 42 million—are between the ages of 10 and 19. The differences in age and biological sex matter when treating adolescents as maturity levels and hormones increase dramatically with age in these years and vary with biological sex as well.

The US Department of Human Services’ Office of Adolescent Health has recently updated their website to include much more information in regards to how adolescents in America are changing and growing.

from: US Department of Human Services
from: US Department of Human Services

 The Changing Face of America’s Adolescents focuses on numbers of adolescents by: age and gender, race and ethnicity, socioeconomic status and geographic location.

A Picture of Adolescent Health focuses on: Physical Health and Nutrition, Mental Health, Reproductive Health, Substance Abuse, Educational Attainment, and Healthy Relationships.

This break down of information is a great way to see the population we are working with and to see some current trends in their health outcomes.

from HHS: The Changing Face of America’s Adolescents

At SOVA project we primarily are focusing on mental health, and found it interesting that 30% of of high school students in 2013 had symptoms of depression. Teenagers often already feel alone in their life, and this population may feel even more alienated. Part of our goal at SOVA is to connect adolescents with each other so they see that they are not alone, and that they don’t have to feel ashamed of their illness.

from HHS: The Changing Face of America’s Adolescents

We also found it interesting that 20% of total adolescents have been bullied. Part of our social media strategy is to address positive relationships and online bullying.

Overall we’re excited that the Department of Human Services has enacted this division and that they have provided many more interesting statistics than we have here.

Tell us what you think – did you visit the website? Is this information useful or insightful to you as a clinician, researcher, or advocate? 

Sharing Mental Illness Online

NPR recently aired an article about a young woman who is telling her story about her schizophrenia on YouTube called “Normal: Living With Schizophrenia.”

She’s fighting stigma, isolation and myths about mental illness with her videos about treatment, day to day life, and how she manages her illness.

John Naslund, a Ph.D. candidate at the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice who studies social media and mental health notes in the article: Scientists are only just now beginning to measure the effect social media might have on clinical outcomes. “It’s quite a new area of thinking, online peer-to-peer support for mental illness,” Naslund says.

Which is exactly the community we are trying to create with the SOVA project!

We want to know what you think? What did you think of the news article? Of Ms. Star’s YouTube channel?

Here’s an example of one of her videos below sharing her experiences with electroconvulsive therapy:

Tell us what you think in the comments!

The Internet and Teenager Health

Dr. Ana Radovic was recently interviewed by WESA, the Pittsburgh NPR station in regards to how the internet can provide useful and sometimes not so useful health education for adolescents.

Dr. Radovic noted that given the research done by Northwestern University that 86 percent of teen respondents reported they got at least some health information from online sources.  Furthermore, many of the teens reported that they get “a lot” of information from the internet, or as Dr. Radovic called it “Doctor Google.”

She said: doctors should always keep that in mind when seeing patients, that they can provide a context for the information that the internet cannot.

As we move forward with our study, we like to keep this in mind so that we can help educate adolescents with useful, correct information, and be able to point them toward a health care professional to receive that context of information when it is needed.

You can listen to the full (6 minute) interview here on WESA’s website.