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Researching for Change in Youth Mental Health

In a recent Vidlet interview about youth mental health, one high school principal noted, "we had a California Healthy Kids Survey [...] just last year, 63% of our students had considered suicide within the last 30 days." This principal emphasized that while high-achieving students are struggling, low-achieving students are struggling even more. So, what do we do about it?

The mental health crisis, particularly amongst young people, has been making headlines for the past few years as children, teens, and young adults face skyrocketing rates of depression and anxiety. Recent Vidlet studies have shown that although the youth mental health crisis is an uphill battle, leaders across the education space are working tirelessly to fight this epidemic and reverse the tides.

In fact, institutions are mirroring the open discourse pioneered by today's teens and young adults by creating spaces for a frank discussion. One example is the Yale class “Psychology and the Good Life,” which is taken by thousands of students a year. It is even available on Coursera so that high school students and working adults can take it too. Classes like this are an important way to give young people the tools and strategies they need to better their mental health. Judging by the sheer number of enrollees, we know that students across the country are scrambling to find the resources necessary to lift themselves out of anxiety and depression.

Through our studies with young people at Vidlet, we have found that we must adapt our research methods to facilitate productive interviews with young people. The old methods of email and phone recruiting are no longer relevant, so alternate methods like text, TikTok, and word-of-mouth rule all. We even try to make sure we know which emojis are in and which are absolutely out.

Young people pose an interesting puzzle for researchers: while they are more difficult to reach and establish rapport with, they are surprisingly open and ready to talk about sensitive issues like mental health. Vidlet's platform is uniquely suited to bridge the gap between researchers and young people. Kids and young adults embrace mobile diaries as a familiar and intuitive format and respond robustly to honest and thoughtful interview questions. As such, Vidlet has been able to hear directly from young people about the challenges they face, and the solutions they crave.

We’re excited to continue providing a forum for students to keep opening up about mental health. Together with students and young people, we can encourage positive change.

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