Once you start to really get to know people by taking the time to talk to them, it doesn’t take long to realise that there’s an issue or two lurking underneath. This is especially true with teenagers and young adults, often because they are not prone to advertising their doubts about life, their fears, and their failures. I remember high school as being personally very emotionally difficult, confusing and lonely. I know that many of my students are actually having wonderful experiences in high school and yet there are still going to be issues with stress (think exam week!), relationships and time management. One particular thing that I have heard a lot lately, especially from young women, is self-doubt and self-loathing about their body image. Some young adults are also struggling quietly with depression, family breakups, etc.
How can I try to help make a young person feel better?
I can be there for them if they need me, listen and also make positive comments. I say “this will pass” a lot but I know this doesn’t really help at the time. I’m also super busy with my own work & family and may just not be around when a student needs help or reassurance. What if we encouraged students to use the SuperBetter app/website? This app/website has been developed based on Game Design principles. Students could use it alone, or even better, they could ‘collect’ Allies (their friends & family) to help them through using the app to feel better. An app or website can’t fix everything but I think using this type of app/website may result in students talking more openly about their issues and therefore remove the stigma around topics such as having a negative body image, depression, etc.