Depression and anxiety is something that can burden a teen's life. The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) estimates that by age 18, 11 percent of adolescents have a depressive disorder and that as a person ages, his/her risk for depression increases. Oftentimes, depression isn't even identified or treated properly; in other cases, it's just dismissed as temporary "teen angst."
This kind of thinking harms everyone.
A group of high school students at the Tri-Tech Skills Center in Kennewick, Washington, have decided to take on the issue of teen anxiety and depression by creating an app called Safe & Sound. The team, comprised of Amanda Arellano, Stephanie Lopez, Genesis Saucedo, Chloe Westphal and Marina Stepanov recently gained national acclaim when their idea for Safe & Sound won the Verizon Innovative App Challenge.
The app offers multiple resources and outlets for teens struggling with anxiety and depression. In the video the team submitted to the Verizon Innovative App Challenge, the students explain how Safe & Sound works and why they created it.
"Most teens are not comfortable actually asking for help in person, but they download apps all the time," one of the students explains in the clip. "Our app, Safe & Sound, is designed to help teens by giving them help along with the anonymity that they prefer."
The app informs users about different types of anxiety and depression and has a journal space that the user can type or record his or her thoughts into. It also allows the user to set goals so that he/she can identify and track accomplishments. There are also tips on how to manage daily stresses, as well as hotlines for those who want to reach out for help.
The macro issue of teen mental health, coupled with a tragedy that occurred close to their home, motivated the students to come up with the idea for the app. In October 2014, Jaylen Fryberg, a senior at Marysville-Pilchuck High School in the girls' home state of Washington, shot and killed five students before taking his own life.
In an email to The Huffington Post, Safe & Sound team member Chloe Westphal said, “The Seattle Times did an article on how he [Fryberg] had been posting his feelings to Twitter for months with no one really listening. ... This sad example of how serious the situation can get really motivated us to create an app that could prevent this kind of thing in the future.”
The girls hope that their app, designed "for teens, by teens," will be a helpful resource for young people struggling with anxiety and depression. The team is currently working on building the app out and making it a reality.
If you or a friend wants someone to talk to about depression, visit HalfOfUs.com for resources.