What You Need To Know
- The Dibble Institute partnered with ArtCenter in Pasadena to create an interactive tool called Me & My Emotions
- The free website aims to help teens better control their emotions and become more resilient
- Studies show an increase in the number of teens struggling with their mental health compared to before the pandemic
- Creators hope teachers will use it in the classroom and remove some of the stigma often associated with mental health
"You watch some videos. You take some quizzes. You earn some points and then you move through all these lessons that teach self-soothing, that address trauma, and then help build these resiliency skills," said Kay Reed, executive director of the Dibble Institute.
Reed said being a teenager is already a stressful time in life and is only exacerbated by the pandemic.
"It might be anxious about your parents or your family and them getting sick or ... having and keeping jobs. It might be about your schooling. I mean, there’s so many ways that young people are anxious and people are very worried about it," Reed said.
The interactive site contains a dozen lessons and is based on a program called Mind Matters, which uses concepts from neurobiology to help users regulate human emotions.
"The challenge to the ArtCenter was to take this content and translate it for young people," Reed said.
"Are we going to get through this? Is this ever going to be over? When will we go back to school?" said Benny Velazco, a 13-year-old student who attends Blair Middle School in Pasadena, who uses the website a couple of times a month.
"It’ll ask you how many times a week you would like to do this, and I think it just helps if you are repeating these things so it will almost start to become a habit," Velazco said.
"We figured that it would be really cool to have a mascot as well just to have this sort of unifying image for me and my emotions," said Audrey Murty, who majored in Illustration at ArtCenter and was one of the fellows selected for the project.
She said they tried to "gamify" the website to make it more engaging and entertaining.
"We came up with these gift boxes and then special tokens where they could start collecting special items that were adventure related," Murty said.
"I think having visuals helped a lot. ... There’s a power to like illustrating concepts that can be abstract and difficult to grasp at times," she said.
She said there is also often a reluctance among teens to bring up problems to authority figures or adults, which is why self-help tools can provide a safe space and a valuable resource for a particularly vulnerable age group.
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