Name of Innovative Program:
Youth Helping Youth With Mental Health
Anxiety In Teens
Name of Innovative Program Lead:
E-mail Address of Innovative Program Lead:
Teenagers suffering from anxiety and other mental health disorders are on the internet; it is Anxiety in Teens (AiT)’s primary purpose to give those teens a positive place to get advice and tips to help them. One of the biggest challenges for the behavioral health community today is the large amount of misinformation and potentially harmful information available to teens online who suffer from such conditions as eating disorders, self-harm, obsessive compulsive disorder, or anxiety. Many teens turn to the internet with their fears, anxieties, or concerns about their compulsions but have no website to find community in which would steer them towards treatment and help them feel less isolated. AiT has taken a cutting edge approach to meet teens and young adults where they are on Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, and Pinterest as well as college campuses and seminars geared towards high schools. Solome Tibebu, founder, has been recognized for her leadership and has received the SAMHSA FFCMH Youth MOVE National Dare to Dream Award, MACMH “Outstanding Service” Award, and placed 1st in division of the largest statewide business competition in the nation.
Creativity and Innovation:
AiT can reach can reach those teens who are not accessible to traditional mental health organizations. AiT is unique because it is able to reach teenagers who suffer from anxiety and other mental health disorders that other traditional organizations cannot reach. The majority of AiT followers seek help anonymously because of the stigma attached with various disorders without revealing their problems to their family or friends. AiT provides the opportunity for college student interns to relate to teens suffering from these disorders. Those college-age interns provide up-to-date knowledge of a variety of social media outlets and work in those mediums to pass on and promote the resources available at AiT. Interns write articles and conduct interviews in such a way that teenagers can easily understand compared to sources online geared towards adults or mental health professionals.
Leadership is demonstrated in the AiT team by the connections forged and the new skills fostered. Solome Tibebu, the founder, has personally overseen the work of sixty college interns. Most of the college students have dealt or are currently dealing with their own mental health issues as they participate, which has created a transformational and compassionate atmosphere. Throughout their internships, students have personally and professionally grown and passed along valuable perspective to AiT's audience. Many of these college interns have gone on to join or start their own nonprofit ventures. Furthermore, AiT has shown leadership in the industry by constructing a model unique in that it is “for teens, by teens” which is why it is unlike anything currently available on the web. It also helps the behavioral health community by directing troubled teens towards treatment, encouraging them to reach out to someone who is close to them for help.
The AiT program is sustained primarily through income from events such as the OutRun Anxiety 5K/10K and Wellness Expo and generous support of donors. Additionally AiT has secured sponsorships from area businesses and other non-profits because of their desire to address the quality of mental health in the community. Due to advances in technology, the cost of running AiT is relatively low and the main expense is maintenance of the website and meeting legal obligations to maintain 501(c)(3) status. However, AiT has goals to expand its reach through increased visibility in middle and high schools through live seminars and events geared at families with teens who suffer from anxiety. The future of AiT will combine more personalized space on the AiT website and more live programming available to the community.
The Learning-Though-Service model is easily replicated all over the country. Interns can be located at any university and can be supervised and communicated with via Skype. They can make submissions via email and be tasked with creating events on their campuses. Initiatives such as Girls’ Overcome Anxiety Weekend can be implemented in other regions, as well as the OutRun Anxiety 5k & Wellness Expo fundraisers. The founder, Solome Tibebu, has spread the word about Anxiety In Teens and mental health in youth in classrooms, various conferences and on stage at TEDx: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8PcdRyB8YJY. As a youth social entrepreneurship speaker through organizations such as Ashoka and NAMI she has presented many workshops and speeches locally and nationally on helping other students discover their strengths and carry out a plan to make a difference.
Over 20,000 teens interact daily with AiT through Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest and Instagram. On average, AiT followers have 250 connections which means that every post on Twitter will reach multiple number of teens. In the past six years, there have been over 60 interns writing articles, conducting interviews and maintaining social media space. AiT has hundreds of articles including dozens of exclusive interviews with experts. AiT has partnered with numerous provider, association and advocacy organizations to promote mental health in teens. Lastly, Solome Tibebu has separately developed a patent-pending clinical mental health technology for patients and providers. Our testomonials from youth participants in the past year speak for themselves (see video links below). Anxiety In Teens has been an accessible and unique resource that is reaching digital natives who would otherwise feel alone finally find a space to gain the psycho-education, community and hope they seek.