Tag Archives: Teens

We have news!

Anyone can look through and read all the blog articles on sova and wisesova!

Photo Credit: SubtlePanda via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: SubtlePanda via Compfight cc

This week, we opened our sites so that the blog post articles are no longer log-in only.  This means if you go to our site for adolescents (sova.pitt.edu) or our site for parents (wisesova.pitt.edu), anyone can look through and read all the blog articles. Also if anyone would like to subscribe to receive the daily blog articles, they can enter their name in the subscribe box on the homepages of each site.

So when do you have to log-in? How do people enter the study?

If someone would like to comment, then they will have to log in. If it is their first time to log in, they will have to register. They will have to wait until our study team approves them as a user after registering before they can log on to the site.  Depending on the phase of our study, they may  or may not qualify as a user since all non-team users are currently part of our study.

What phase of the study are you in?

Right now we are still testing both sites for feasiblity. That means we are trying to answer: will people use them? will they like them? how can we make them better? After we complete our recruitment goals for that study, we will move to the next phase of growing the online community.  We will let you know when that happens!

Why does this matter to me?

Now anyone can feel free to explore the sites!

Why did you make this change?

Making the SOVA websites is an iterative process. This means we learn what users want – make the changes – then we again ask the users what they like what they don’t like or we see which parts of the site they use and don’t use – and make more changes…over and over again. The current user feedback has led us to changing the site to be more engaging by opening up the blog articles while still making sure parts of the site are anonymous – by asking users to log-in to view others’ comments.

How can I help get the word out about sovaproject?

Feel free to share articles on your social media which speak to you!

Feel free to recommend articles you read and like to your family, friends, colleagues, patients, clients!

Like us on Facebook!

Also, feel free to give us feedback on articles by emailing us at socialmediastudy@chp.edu!

Thanks for reading!

“After School” App

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!

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? 

New Survey Reveals Mental Health of Allegheny Teens

The Allegheny County Health Department, in partnership with Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC and Pitt Public Health, conducted an anonymous telephone survey of more than 1,800 teens, the results of which were released in August.  This survey was called the Healthy Allegheny Teen Survey (HATS) and was completed due to the lack of available data on our adolescents here in Allegheny County.

For us working on SOVA project this information was especially startling.  The depression and suicide questions in particular found:

  •  During the last 12 months, 19% felt sad or hopeless almost every day for two weeks in a row so they stopped doing their regular activities. [30% nationally]
  •  10% report that they seriously considered attempting suicide in the past 12 months [17% nationally]
  • Of those 10%, 42% report that they attempted suicide one or more times in the past 12 months.
  • 35% report that they have hurt themselves on purpose in the past 12 months (no national data available)

 

Capture

On some points Allegheny is doing better than the national average. However, at SOVA we think that 19% of our adolescents feeling sad or hopeless every day for two weeks in a row and 35% having self-harmed is 19% and 35% too many. Our adolescents deserve so much better.  SOVA was created in order to link adolescents and their parents to positive interactions with peers in a moderated environment and correct information about mental health to reduce barriers to treatment. With one fifth of our adolescents in Allegheny stopping activities they love due to depression, and over one third of our teens coping with self-harm we know there is still a lot of work to do.

Sources:

Post-gazette: Survey reveals concerns, positives in health of Allegheny county youths

ACHD: Allegheny County Health Department

Culture’s Role in Identifying and Treating Depression

Hi, Friends!

As public health advocates, we are constantly concerned  with cultural competencies and addressing the unique needs of those we serve.  The Kaiser Health News recently published an article that showcases culture’s role in identifying depression and seeking treatment.  Research has shown that Asian Americans are more likely to consider suicide than their white counterparts.  Depression among this frequently overlooked and understudied population segment is particularly challenging due to the cultural barriers that stand in the way of diagnosing and treating the condition.  The article notes that depression is often not seen as a brain disease and is typically stigmatized due to the high standards that are set within the culture.  The author illustrates this through an incredibly poignant story of an adolescent Asian American girl’s struggle with depression and the challenges she faced when confronting her family regarding her mental health needs.

Please take a look and share your thoughts on issues you have faced relating to cultural competencies and overlooked and under-served population segments.

Lastly, don’t forget about our collaboration page and please provide us with your feedback whenever you have a moment!

wynne-lee-3

 

Photo credit: http://kaiserhealthnews.org/news/when-depression-and-cultural-expectations-collide/

Texting as a Tool: Creative Interventions

Hi Everyone!

We wanted to follow up on one of our posts last month, Texting That Saves Lives.  Just to recap, Nancy Lublin did a fabulous job at showcasing texting as a powerful tool to reach adolescents struggling with depression.  Recently, NPR published a related article that discusses using texting as a public health intervention.  The article below provides insight on how a pilot program, NYC Teen Text, will use texting as a tool to design a creative intervention to implement at 10 New York public high schools.  Let us know your thoughts!  Are any of you currently using texting to reach adolescents with depression?  Are the methods similar or different?  We want to hear from you!

2015 White House Student Film Festival

Happy Spring, Folks!

We wanted to tell you about an awesome project that came out of the White House earlier this month.  Last week, President Obama and his staff unrolled the Student Film Festival to showcase videos illustrating the impact  of giving back through the eyes of teens around the nation.  Students around the country have used this opportunity as a venue to exercise their creative energy and inspire those around them.  Please tune in to witness a truly moving glimpse into the overlooked reality of students living in this country today.