Youth Mental Health, Social Media and Cyberbullying

By pjain      Published Oct. 26, 2019, 3:08 a.m. in blog Startups   

Youth and Teen Health

Social Media, Safety Anti-Bullying

Cyberbullying Overview

SafeZone: Using Technology to Prevent Cyberbullying

Laiah Idelson, MSPH YTH Strategic Partnerships and Innovation Lead A YTH study on cyberbullying found 1 in 6 teenagers were contacted online by a stranger and 17% of teens reported online contact that made them uncomfortable. Girls were twice as likely to report unwanted contact. These experiences have long-term impacts on adolescents’ self-esteem and can result in suicide. In response, YTH created SafeZone, a mobile app to support adolescents experiencing cyberbullying in documenting their experiences and seeking peer support. There is ample evidence that youth tend to seek peer support before they reach out to adult allies and authorities following violence because they feel that their peers are more likely to empathize with them and there is a low risk of repercussion. A solution that provides youth with secure and confidential, 24/7 access to their peer support network provides them with coping methods as well as build resilience and confidence in their ability to protect themselves. While Safezone is not yet available to the public, it builds on YTH’s long history of serving youth experiencing a variety of violence. Safezone is similar to YTH’s evidence-based and award-winning app, Circle of 6 which connects users threatened with sexual assault and relationship abuse to a network of trusted friends, using GPS technology, emergency hotlines, and community support. SafeZone connects young people experiencing cyberbullying with resources to support them such as hotlines, allows them to document and take screenshots of the bullying incident, and allows them to notify a trusted circle of peers when they are in crisis. Safezone was created though a youth-centered design methodology, a technique rooted in human-centered design and Positive Youth Development with youth at the Huckleberry Teen Health Program in Marin County, CA. Huckleberry youth drove the vision, strategy, design, and content of the app. This session will not only feature the Safezone program but will also feature an interactive component so participants can engage in a youth-centered design activity similar to those that drove the creation of Safezone. The session will highlight how youth-centered design can be a tool to support youth experiencing mental health challenges.

GUTF Group Chats - Give Us The Floor

  • Leveraging Social Media for Teen Peer Support Valerie Grison-Alsop, Founder & CEO of Give Us The Floor

Give Us The Floor help teens deal in distress through unique, peer support groups that leverage social media to provide constant contact and anonymity in a teen-only community, breaking the isolation and shame cycles common with typical teen challenges. Trained teens facilitate these confidential and safe Supportive Group Chats. The participants help each other with common mental health and social issues such as depression, isolation, anxiety, body image, bullying, and relationships. Teens in GUTF Supportive Group Chats build a peer-to-peer, community that helps to alleviate the mental health and social issues that plague our nation’s young people. GUTF has engaged more than 1,500 teenagers since officially launching this program in April 2018, with impact data showing impressive results. The program has proved to be a breakthrough solution for teens experiencing loneliness, providing an innovative way to create a new community connection that transcends the urban/rural divide and embraces geographic and demographic diversity.

We’re taking a very innovative approach: we’re using Social Media to re-create positive and supportive human connections. Teens participate in supportive group chats on Snapchat consisting of groups of 12 to 15 teens. 1 or 2 of them are trained as facilitators

The teens who benefit from our program are the ones who are in need of help:
77% report suffering or having suffered from Anxiety
72% from depression
69% from isolation
52% report having suicidal thoughts in the present or past

The results validate our model, 1 month only after becoming a member of a group:
94% of active participants report feeling less lonely
97% report feeling better about themselves
85% report having been helped with their struggles

The Supportive Group Chats model has created a high-engagement, teen-only online space that is delivering meaningful positive outcomes for the mental health of participants. With minimal adult intervention and clearly defined community guidelines, a safe and supportive online space can be facilitated by teens that receive only a few hours of online training. The Supportive Group Chats model is highly scalable, with the potential to be a significant tool for eliminating isolation and associated negative mental health effects among teens. In addition to the quantitative data that is reported by members through surveys, GUTF receives countless testimonials and anecdotes from teen members about the positive impact SGCs have had on their lives: “My GUTF group has been like a second family to me. They have helped me a lot and we are all there for each other. I had a really hard time recently and none of my friends understood, but through Give Us The Floor I had people help me when I felt so alone.”

Homeless and Migrant Youth

The California Youth Crisis Line: Reaching Youth Where They Are

  • Bianca Christian, MSW, Program Director, The California Youth Crisis Line: Reaching Youth Where They Are The California Youth Crisis Line was started to address a tech concern with the population of homeless and runaway youth in the community. In the 30+ years that we have been in existence we have endeavored to be at the forefront of where youth are in the physical and virtual spaces. We strive to provide the best trauma-informed and flexible approach to youth in crisis. Join us for a discussion on how we are working to be accessible to youth, and the strategy to take away the stigma and stress from crisis intervention.


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