Category Archives: Uncategorized

Adolescents with depression on social media

Before we created the sova websites: sova for adolescents and young adults and wisesova for parents, we wanted to learn about how adolescents with depression and their parents use social media. In user design, you want to know how someone uses a technology tool currently before you try to modify it. Also, we wanted to know whether or not social media was a good strategy to use to reach young people with depression?

We definitely learned some interesting things! Recently, this work was published in the Journal of Adolescence. If you cannot access a copy, I am happy to send it to you if you email me a request.

Some of our main findings included that adolescents with depression:

  • Like using social media to search out information, for distraction, social connection, and share positive content like quotes or funny videos
  • Also use social media in some negative ways like sharing risky behaviors like sneaking out or to compare themselves with others
  • When in a bad mood some adolescents would “stress post” or share a negative thought as a status update as a way to get it off their chest or look for social support
  • Others would “overshare” or share too much personal information or mundane facts about their lives with the effect sometimes leading to cyberbullying
  • Sometimes would feel triggered by posts they would see like of pictures of self-harm

As adolescents got older and got treatment for their depression, they would also change how they used social media in a more positive way. For example, they would send a private message to a friend who had been supportive in the past – versus sending out a Twitter status on a fishing expedition to see who might notice or respond.

These adolescents had a lot of useful information to share about social media and we are happy to share their opinion and observations with the academic world by disseminating this work.  I will be talking about this work and related research at two upcoming conferences for clinicians and families:

The 2017 Annual STAR Center Conference at University of Pittsburgh May 5, 2017


The NAMI Keystone PA Mental Health and Wellness Conference in Harrisburg May 12-13, 2017

We hope you can join the SOVA team there!

Team Spotlight: Katrina Keane

Meet Katrina, researcher at the University of Pittsburgh and one of our Masters of Social Work Graduate Interns.  We interviewed Katrina to find out a little more about her as well as gain some insight about our project.katrinakeane_sova

That are your educational aspirations?

Right now I’m in my first year of the MSW program at Pitt, I’m very excited about the COSA curriculum and to really start to dig into that as my year progresses. COSA is the Community, Organization, and Social Action concentration program with in the MSW program at the University of Pittsburgh. I don’t have any Ph.D aspirations at this point, but the future is fluid!

Where do you see yourself in your career 10 years from now?

I currently work at the YMCA doing childcare, but my goal is to transition to a different role there once I complete the MSW program; hopefully, starting with the residences at the YMCA. I want to work at the YMCA forever! I think it’s a great organization with a lot of career flexibility to do some amazing work with many different populations because each YMCA location is tailored to the community that it is in. Which is something I love about it.

What personal goals are you working toward right now?

My husband and I are in the process of transitioning a teenage foster-adoptive placement into our home. I’m very excited about this, I’m nervous about becoming a “new mom” and my goals are to engage in self-care daily and to continue to work toward balance in my life.

What do you like about the SOVA project?

I really like how supportive everything is, and how it is very positive for everyone involved, including the research team!

What do you think are some of the barriers to the project gaining speed?

I think that getting people to know about this amazing project and engage on the website will be difficult at first. But I also don’t see that stopping us from doing some meaningful work with a fantastic population!

What do you think are some of the strengths the project already has?

I think the research team is motivated, kind, and really cares about the research and positive outcomes for the youth we are engaging with!

Internet Interventions in Behavioral Health

eHealth Seminar on eHealth Interventions in Behavioral Health with Dr. Lee M. Ritterband, Ph. D. from the University of Virginia

Dr. Ritterband recently did a short lecture at the University of Pittsburgh on how the internet has helped change the way we can help people. It’s amazing how much the internet has changed over the past 20 years and how much it has transformed our lives.

Lee M. Ritterband, Ph. D. Professor of Psychiatry and Neurobehavioral Sciences

By using proven Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) techniques Dr. Ritterbrand’s team has developed a large number of online programs that are highly structured, semi-self-guided, interactive and tailored to the user for a number of conditions. These websites include: UCanPoopToo, for pediatric encopresis; SHUTi, for insomnia; and BGAT, for blood sugar monitoring, among others. His lecture was very informative and shed some light onto topics I hadn’t yet considered while doing Internet Interventions.

I was excited to learn so much about Internet Interventions because of the work we do on the SOVA project.  I hope that we can carry some of the information we learned from Dr. Ritterband into the work we do here so that we can Support Our Valued Adolescents!