Student mental health has been declining over the past few years, with steady increases in anxiety, depression, and suicidal ideation (Liverpool et al., 2020). Attending school in our ever-changing world is not easy. Students are dealing with immense stress and anxiety, the need to adapt to new learning environments, the unpredictability of illnesses or stressful events, and limited support offerings. School staff and parents may wonder why students aren’t accessing the mental health support available to them?
Students face a variety of barriers to accessing mental health care at all levels. Many children and adolescents do not seek professional help for their mental health due to limited knowledge of mental health and negative perceptions of help-seeking (Radez et al., 2020). This barrier is part of the stigma surrounding mental health which young people are particularly sensitive to (Radez et al., 2020). Neolth seeks to eliminate this stigma by creating adolescent-approved content that educates and creates positive perceptions of help-seeking for mental health-related concerns. Our Expert Advice videos feature doctors and therapists who discuss different facets of mental health in easily digestible, Youtube-style videos for students. We’ve found that students are more likely to seek help from an adult after engaging with this content (Warnstadt, Grill, & Wheeler, 2022, in press).
Similar to our Expert Advice videos, we also feature students who share their lived experiences with mental health and help-seeking to break down stigma. Many adolescents feel embarrassed of their mental health issues due to societal stigma (Radez et al., 2020). Hearing their peers' stories can encourage them to seek help themselves and show them examples of how to do so.
Because of the stigma and shame surrounding mental health for this group, it’s imperative to provide trustworthy, confidential resources that empower adolescents to take control of their mental health (Radez et al., 2020). Neolth is a completely self-guided, confidential platform where students can find support without worrying about anyone finding out. If they do choose to share their information with a counselor or teacher, for example, they must opt-in, giving them complete control over their own personal information. In today’s digital age with information everywhere, this is a rarity that can ease adolescents’ minds when it comes to supporting their mental health.
Finally, accessibility is a major issue for most adolescents seeking mental health support. Therapy and other resources can be extremely expensive and hard to find in many areas, with wait times of months or longer (Radez et al., 2020). Stigma also prevents many from accessing these limited resources or searching for help (Radez et al., 2020). By providing a private, self-guided digital tool, Neolth allows adolescents to access the support they need right from their phone or computer - whenever and wherever they need it. This allows students to begin caring for themselves while waiting for more intensive clinical care, or potentially preventing the need for it at all. If they are accessing clinical services, they can use Neolth in conjunction with their counselor, making it easy to keep track of their mental health between sessions.
Schools are uniquely situated to offer a service like Neolth at no cost to the student, eliminating the financial barriers for many (Warnstadt, Grill, & Wheeler, 2022, in press). This alone can help disadvantaged students, who are at a higher risk for developing serious mental health issues, decrease their risk and access life-changing support (Radez et al., 2020). As mentioned earlier, students utilizing Neolth can also use this in conjunction with their counseling sessions, taking the work off the counselor to monitor them between sessions. This may also reduce wait times for other students by decreasing the frequency of or need for counseling sessions at all. Counselors and students, alike, will benefit from the use of a digital tool like Neolth.
Interested in learning more about using Neolth in your school? Schedule a meeting with us to see how Neolth can work for your students.
Liverpool, S., Mota, C. P., Sales, C. M. D., Cus, A., Carletto, S., Hancheva, C., Sousa, S., Ceron, S. S., Moreno-Peral, P., Pietrabissa, G., Moltrecht, B., Ulberg, R., Ferreira, N., & Edbrooke-Childs, J. (2020). Engaging children and young people in digital mental health interventions: Systematic review of modes of delivery, facilitators, and barriers. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 22(6). https://doi.org/10.2196/16317.
Radez, J., Reardon, T., Creswell, C., Larence, P. J., Evdoka-Burton, G., & Waite, P. (2020). Why do children and adolescents (not) seek and access professional help for their mental health problems? A systematic review of quantitative and qualitative studies. European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 30, 183-211. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00787-019-01469-4.