“I’m feeling depressed; what should I do?” “My friend is having thoughts of suicide. How do I help?” “How do I manage stress?” Young people across the country pose questions like these on Google searches daily, resorting to Google to find answers, mainly when it seems like there is nowhere else to go for support around challenging issues.
A study published by Northwestern University confirms that 19% of teens search online for answers for stress or anxiety, and another 16% search for resources to help with depression. 49% of youth search for health information on Google, and another 20% search on YouTube; however, youth report that the resources they find are mixed on being helpful or harmful. The Northwestern study points out that youth aren’t always consistently getting the information or support they need through their existing networks. Only 55% of youth feel they get ‘good’ health information from their parents — and that’s all health information, not just mental health. The number for mental health is a lot lower.
It is this lack of options for finding answers that prompted Youth Era to create YouthEmpowerment.com, a peer-led website, designed to offer support and help through tough times. The website is home to articles, resources, and original content written by young people for young people. The site serves as an avenue to support a young person’s personal growth and emotional development by touching on sensitive topics in an inclusive and trauma-informed way. Youth ERA uses the strength of this web-based platform to empower youth on their mental health journey—giving them the tools they need to not only survive but to thrive.
As Martin Rafferty, CEO of Youth ERA, points out, “What is particularly unique and helpful about this website is the youth-peer authorship. Because the articles are written by youth for youth, it allows for youth to see themselves, their language and their culture reflected in the articles, which sends an overarching and powerful message: You are not alone.”