We recently learned about the new App for smart phones called “After School.” It’s an app that allows students to anonymously post about sensitive issues. However, many fear that the app may be used for bullying. This article from the Washington Post is how we found out about the app.
After reviewing the new update posted by the developers, we think they have taken a lot of steps to make the app safer. Some of these include 24/7 moderating, an emergency notification system, community guidelines, and the ability for students to remove harmful content. To join your school’s anonymous community, the app uses Facebook and your friends on Facebook to identify that you are friends with other students who belong to your school. If you want to see any sexual or profane content, you have to prove you are over 17 and scan your driver’s license. Still, adolescents are smart, and there are likely ways to hack the system.
What do you think about these updates? Does it make the app safe? Do you know people who use the app? Tell us about it!
This past Saturday a few people from our team went to the NAMI Southwestern PA Annual Education Conference! We took the SOVA project 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 panels 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!
Dr. Brené Brown is a research professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work. She has spent the past thirteen years studying vulnerability, courage, worthiness, and shame.
In this short animated video she explains the four qualities of empathy: perspective taking, staying out of judgement, recognizing emotion in other people, and communicating that emotion. She goes on to explain, very concisely, how to implement them.
Using empathy is incredibly important in the work we are doing with the SOVA project. While our feasibility study is in full swing, we are seeing comments and connection with our websites. As providers we remain cognizant of our clients needs and emotions as they open up to us.
We recently shared this video on our project websites – what do you think? Did Dr Brown hit the nail on the head? Tell us what you think in the comments!
Recently the JED Foundation published research on parent knowledge and attitudes in regards to their children’s mental health. We were interested in this article because it directly relates to our work with the SOVA studies.
They asked parents about their knowledge, attitudes, and perceptions about stigma of accessing mental health care; they also asked their opinion about the role of colleges in mental health care. This is an important research topic we know little about and which can inform parents how to help their children, especially those with mental health problems, transition to college. It can be difficult for parents to understand what is normative in college transition versus not. One example is many college students experience lack of sleep – how do you know if its just a fact of life in college? or a symptom of a mental illness? It’s important to know how to pick up on early signs of emotional distress that can sometimes come out during this transition.
Emotional disorders are very common in college: The health status of emerging young adults (age 18 to 26) is a major concern facing our nation. These “new adolescents”:
face greater behavioral and non-behavioral health risks than either adolescents aged 12-17 or young adults aged 26-34. Overall, emerging young adults have the highest rates of motor vehicle injury and death, homicide, mental health problems, sexually transmitted infections and substance abuse
compared to those two age groups, emerging young adults often have the lowest perception of risk and
this age group has the least access to care and has the highest uninsured rate in the United States (from: usc.edu)
Although most parents feel that they are able to identify signs of depression in their college-age children, they actually have deficits in knowledge when asked to identify symptoms of depression without prompting. “Only 3.4% of parents identified suicidal thoughts as a sign of depression and only 15% of parents were able to name more than one or two signs” (JED foundation, 2008). Parents were least comfortable discussing mental health, especially suicidal thoughts and other health topics.
SOVA and wiseSOVA aim to increase knowledge, improve parent-adolescent communication around mental health, and connect families with available resources, including the JED foundation to promote healthy transitions!
Thanks so much for all of the feedback we have gotten on the site and our latest posts. As we continue to work out the kinks, it’s super helpful to hear about your thoughts or any issues you may find.
Next week we will begin an exciting new phase of our project– participant recruitment! One important part of SOVA and WiseSOVA is the community of peers who have experienced depression themselves or been a parent of a child who has experienced it. With the help of this peer community, we will be able to best tailor the content and design of the site for our intended site users. We hope that when we start using the website for the research study, we will have built an active peer community of partners that can provide a helping hand to those currently experiencing problems with depression.
We still have many questions like, can we engage more people in discussion if we write about depression in different ways? For example, sharing someone’s personal story vs. discussing more general ideas of what experiencing such an issue can be like.
Next week we start recruiting from the Adolescent Clinic and we are excited to learn what happens. Stay tuned as we begin building our community!