Rates of depression among college students are very high. When adolescents leave home and attend college they are faced with many stressors, including drug and alcohol exposure, sexual activity, peer pressure, academic pressure, financial obligations, and homesickness. For many young adults, this can be an exciting, but difficult, time. Depression is one psychological condition that often first presents itself during the college years. Additionally, many young adults feel isolated and do not know where to turn when they are depressed and choose to suicide as an option. Because of the extremely high rates of depressed youth, it is important to find the most effective and efficient means by which to identify them so that treatments can be designed and delivered.
Recently, novel approaches integrating technology have been created to increase the identification of college students with major depression (MDD). Some methods that have been implemented include email campaigns and website advertising. But Jeong Youn Soo of the Depression Clinical and Research Program at Massachusetts General Hospital decided to use one of the most popular social networking sites, Facebook, as a way of reaching out to young college students who might be dealing with depression. Soo recently conducted an advertisement campaign designed to recruit and educate college students with MDD and those at risk for suicide. The goal of this experiment was to see if the program would actually identify those with MDD and suicidal ideation, and if it would be cost effective and easy to implement.
Soo implemented the campaign and it took less than 24 hours to get it from concept to delivery. Over six months, 259 college students participated and Soo was able to identify 26% with MDD and 18% with recent thoughts of suicide. The development, delivery, and diagnosis aspects of this program were all very positive. However, the cost of this program was over $11 per student, nearly three times the cost of prior email and website efforts. Soo was disappointed by how few of the young adults took advantage of the educational aspect of the program. “Many did not consider treating MDD a high priority, and most (83.90%) of the depressed students remained untreated,” said Soo. So despite the fact that the Facebook program was successful at identifying those at risk for suicide and MDD, more must be done to motivate these students to get treatment for these potentially life-threatening issues.
- Soo, Jeong Youn, et al. Using online social media, Facebook, in screening for major depressive disorder among college students. International Journal of Clinical and Health Psychology 13.1 (2013): 74-80. ProQuest Research Library. Web. 20 Feb. 2013.
© Copyright 2013 GoodTherapy.org. All rights reserved.
The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.