'Am I depressed?': How teens can find mental health help online

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Teens don’t need to read the headlines to know that they and too many of their peers are feeling lonely, sad, anxious, and suicidal. Recent headlines, however, confirm what’s happening in their lives.  

This week, a Pediatrics study documented a 28 percent increase in psychiatric visits to the emergency room for American youth. The research, which looked at survey data collected between 2011 and 2015, found even higher rates of increased visits for adolescents and African American and Hispanic youth. The rate of suicide-related visits more than doubled. 

“This study unmistakably reveals that adolescents are a population with urgent mental health needs,” the study’s authors wrote. 

Meanwhile, new research also published this week used survey data to reveal a “steady rise” in youth rates of mood disorders and suicidal thoughts and behaviors between 2005 and 2017. 

Yet many young people grappling with psychological distress or mental illness are hesitant to tell someone who could help them. Instead, they may look for answers online, where Google searches can lead them to both information about effective treatment and therapy and to misleading or bad advice. 

Teens looking for hope amidst a sea of online resources can arm themselves with the following tips: 

1. Take a reputable mental health screening. 

There are countless online quizzes designed to tell a user whether they’re experiencing a mental health condition. These tools can help verify that something is wrong, but only some of them are based on science. You’ll want to look for scientifically validated screening tools, which you can often find through mental health organizations or government websites.

“Sometimes taking the screening is the first step before having a conversation with someone.”

Mental Health America, a nonprofit organization, offers 9 screening tools that focus on mental illnesses like depression, anxiety, and disordered eating. One screening is specifically for youth 17 and younger, and many users arrive at the site by Googling phrases like “Am I depressed?” and “depression test.” Once they’ve received the results, users can print or email them to share with others.

“Sometimes taking the screening is the first step before having a conversation with someone,” says Theresa Nguyen, Mental Health America’s vice president of policy and programs. “People think, ‘Now I have something tangible that I can give to my parents or someone I trust.'” 

2. Educate yourself with accurate information. 

If you’ve taken a screening indicating you should seek help, or received a diagnosis from a pediatrician or mental health professional, Nguyen recommends telling a trusted adult as well as learning more about your symptoms or condition. While it can be helpful to hear from friends or seek insight from social media, it’s important to remember that everyone’s mental health experiences are different. (MHA offers a tip sheet for vetting online mental health resources.)

To get basic information about symptoms or illnesses, you can check out evidence-based resources provided by government agencies like the National Institute of Mental Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as nonprofit organizations like Crisis Text Line and the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Effective Child Therapy, a website created by the Society of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, also offers helpful definitions and descriptions. 

MHA maintains a comprehensive roundup of answers to numerous questions about depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, psychosis, and self-harm. They tackle questions such as, “Am I just sad or depressed?,” “Will I always have anxiety?,” and, “Can an app help my mental health problems?” 

“The most powerful thing we can give young people first is education, so they have more of a sense of what they’re going through,” says Nguyen. 

That education, she adds, can help them push back when a parent, adult, or healthcare provider minimizes a child’s concerns about their mental health. 

“It’s really empowering for young people to feel strong,” she says. 

3. Find treatment and recovery resources. 

There are science-backed treatment options for mental health conditions, but finding such information online can be difficult unless you know where to look. 

Effective Child Therapy provides a thorough list of various evidence-based therapies in addition to explanations of which treatments work best specifically for illnesses like anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, disordered eating, and post-traumatic stress disorder. The site also offers a collection of search tools for finding a therapist as well as advice on how to choose a provider. 

Getting the right help early on can be critical to recovery, says Amanda Jensen-Doss, director of the child and family division in the department of psychology at the University of Miami and a member of the Society of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology. 

She encourages young people and their parents to ask psychologists and psychiatrists more about the treatments they offer, how patient progress is tracked, and why a certain approach is the right one to use. That information can help young patients make informed decisions about their care versus trying to handle the situation on their own. 

“So often the problems linger for a long time before they come to someone’s attention.”

“So often the problems linger for a long time before they come to someone’s attention,” says Jensen-Doss. “Kids are suffering until the point where they need to be in the ER.” 

If you’re searching online for information about suicide or hospitalization, Jensen-Doss says it’s time to contact a hotline that handles emotional crises, like the Crisis Text Line, the Trevor Project, or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.   

MHA’s research does suggest that the majority of young people who use their resources don’t want to see a therapist. That’s why Nguyen often recommends the organization’s resources, including “DIY tools” comprising worksheets, fact sheets, and activities that help explain, address, and manage your symptoms. 

Whether you decide to seek help for your mental health or not, it’s key to know that the right online research and resources can put you on a path toward healing and recovery. 

If you want to talk to someone or are experiencing suicidal thoughts, text the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. Here is a list of international resources.

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5 cheap online courses that could help you land a job in AI

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Become a fully functioning robo-professional with the help of these online courses.
Become a fully functioning robo-professional with the help of these online courses.
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These days, pundits galore are proselytizing about the Future of Work. Depending on who you ask, the robots may or may not be taking over, leaving us mere humans pondering how work fits into our lives and whether we’re going to be eventually rendered obsolete.

Just look at the stark contrast in tone between these two headlines: the Wall Street Journal’s White-Collar Robots Are Coming For Jobs versus Wired’s Chill: Robots Won’t Take All Our Jobs. Who should we *really* believe?!

The truth is there isn’t one easy answer. What we can do is prepare ourselves to move into technical careers required to create and manage the robot revolution. Case in point: AI is one of the fastest growing tech sectors, and companies are hiring.

If you’re itching to stay ahead of the curve in this Brave New World of work, here are five ways to get started. You’ll get an extra 15% off the already discounted prices with use of code MADNESS15 at checkout:

This bundle contains five e-books jam-packed full of essential robotics knowledge, including the Robot Operating System — the popular framework used by hobbyists to design and build real, working robots. Plus, this e-book package is seriously hands-on with tons of ROS projects (like building a self-driving car) that will have you putting theory into practice in no time.

Normally $199.95, it’s now on sale for $15. With the code applied, you can grab it for just $12.75.

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This huge bundle covers all things AI across over 80 hours of training. You’ll get a deep dive in essential AI concepts such as machine learning and data science, and more. Uncover the technical knowledge that powers everything from Apple’s Siri to Tesla’s self-driving cars, and add a kick to your résumé with some sweet new skills.

This bundle was once $1,599, but it’s on sale for $59. With the code applied, you can grab it now for just $50.15.

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This premium course collection covers all things machine learning, spanning ten courses comprising 63.5 hours of training. You’ll get courses like Quant Trading Using Machine Learning, and Learn By Example: Hadoop & MapReduce for Big Data Problems — tons of essential machine learning fundamentals that will help you build and execute programs to tackle complex Big Data puzzles.

This collection was originally $780, and it’s on sale for $29. With the code applied, you can grab it for just $24.65.

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In this training, you’ll get detailed machine learning and data science certification prep. Across eight courses spanning nearly 50 hours of content, you’ll get the lowdown on key machine learning essentials such as how to utilize Tensorflow (Google’s deep learning-oriented framework), use the statistical computing language R, and master Python for data science purposes.

This training bundle was originally $1,600, and is now on sale for $35. With the code applied, you can grab it for just $29.75.

Image: Pixabay

MATLAB is a seriously powerful data science tool, and this five-course collection will help you master it. From diving into machine learning classification algorithms to supplementing Excel with thousands of advanced functions using MATLAB, you’ll learn to slice and dice data like a pro. Plus, get access to hands-on projects, and learn to use the Simulink MATLAB add-on to create virtual prototypes and models.

Originally priced at $549.96, this bundle is now on sale for $35. With the code applied, you can grab it for just $29.75.

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Save an additional 15% on these personal hygiene essentials

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No one likes getting ready for bed. But if you’re one of the many rushing through your bathroom hygiene routine, the only victim is yourself. Taking care of your face, and especially the inside of your mouth, can have long-term effects on your health.

The good news is technology has delivered some pretty useful gadgets that make your nighttime routine a whole lot easier. Check out these hygiene hacks, all available at sale prices.

Flossing is the most important part of taking care of your teeth and gums, but virtually nobody does it (or they lie about it). Because let’s be honest: it’s painful, inconvenient, and you don’t even get the pay-off of delicious minty breath that comes from toothpaste. Luckily, this device solves all those problems.

Because it uses direct water jets, this Aqua Flosser is more effective than traditional flossing, and gets all your flossing done in half the time. It’s even dentist-recommended, meaning you’ll actually have good news for your dentist next time you get your teeth cleaned.

Normally $149.99, you can get the Aqua Flosser Rechargeable Water Flosser for just $33.99 by using the code MADNESS15 at checkout!

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Your face is the part of your body you’re least likely to cover up, so it absorbs a lot of dirt, damage, and debris over the course of a normal day. The TAO Clean Orbital Facial Brush helps reward your face for its sacrifice by scrubbing away dirt, dead cells, and makeup. It works to cleanse and polish your skin and keeps everything looking shiny and new. Plus, the charging station kills 99.9% of bacteria with UV-C rays.

Normally $129, you can get the TAO Clean Orbital Facial Brush and Cleaning Station for just $59.49 with code MADNESS15.

Image: TAO Clean

Mira-Teeth has taken electric toothbrush technology into the future. Instead of just traditional rotating brush heads, Mira-Teeth uses ultrasound technology to penetrate gum pockets and kill bacteria with powerful vibrations, cleaning and whitening your faithful mouth-bones in only a matter of seconds.

Normally $239, you can get the Mira-Teeth Cleaning Start Kit for just $169.15 with code MADNESS15.

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A new crop of stress toys is here to take over where fidget spinners left off

The fidget spinner craze may be dead, but the idea behind them isn’t. Here are some of the best new energy-channeling toys that’ll keep your hands busy.

Every product here is independently selected by Mashable journalists. If you buy something featured, we may earn an affiliate commission which helps support our work.

Best desk toy

Speks Super

These supersized magnetic balls can help release tension, then act as decor when it’s time to be professional.

March Mindfulness is our new series that examines the explosive growth in mindfulness and meditation technology — culminating in Mashable’s groundbreaking competitive meditation bracket contest. Because March shouldn’t be all madness.

Reaching for your phone as a distraction from uncomfortable situations has become a reflex at this point. It’s a handy tactic to avoid eye contact in public, but bolting to social media or even self-care apps when you’re stressed or anxious could subconsciously be making you feel worse.

It’s time we find something to focus our energy that’s more productive than listening for Twitter’s refresh “pop” sound every five minutes.

Mindfulness and the focus on focus aren’t new by any means, but have increasingly been in the spotlight due to a mass fixation on self care. Sure, being open and curious about the present without judging other ideas rattling your brain sounds great, but here’s the thing: It doesn’t come easy for everyone. Mastering mindfulness can take time — and the right level of expectations. For those who aren’t ready to hop on the meditation train, there are other options to help you chill out.

Enter: stress toys. When social media has become a dumpster fire and self-care apps just aren’t cutting it, something as simple as a physical toy can help you decompress. And while the fidget spinner is now just a memory rolling around on the floor of your car, its short life had a bigger impact than making Toys R Us airfreight tens of thousands of them to meet demand: It opened up the conversation about stress, nervous energy, and how seemingly useless little toys can affect how we focus

There hasn’t been a lot of peer-reviewed scientific research done on the science of fidgeting, but the mass obsession with the fidget spinner leads us to believe that stress toys are something people really want — and is hopefully opening the door for more research on the benefits. Forbes journalist Bruce Y. Lee dove into the idea of fidgeting:

“One thought is that fidgeting may occupy parts of your brain that otherwise would distract the rest of your brain with random thoughts. […] Fidgeting may prevent your mind from being occupied by obsessive and unhealthy thoughts such as what is the meaning of life, what do other people think of you, why aren’t you more attractive, why do others seem more successful on Facebook than you, and why isn’t Justin Beiber [SIC] returning your phone call?”

The modern stress toy market has expanded past fidget spinners and long beloved stress balls in an attempt to satisfy all the different ways we can work through this excess energy: Whether that’s squeezing, squishing, spinning, rolling, molding, building, or a mix. Similar to the way meditation apps guide you through breathing or have you stare at bubbles, these toys provide a way to regather yourself during an overwhelming situation or to simply channel some nervous energy.

A few seconds of focusing your energy on a stress toy — or simply giving your fingers something to do that’s not nervously biting your nails or picking at your skin — can help you slow down. Toys may not free you of other thoughts like meditation aims to, but they’re something that can help you pause when everything else is spinning. Plus, they’re perfect for daily use.

TL;DR: Everyone needs an outlet for stress sometimes, and it’s totally fine if yours is a stress toy. Here are eight of the best new stress toys you can buy on the internet.

Stimulates multiple senses at once • Nine scent options

Reviews mention receiving the wrong size

The Bottom Line

Knead your worries away with this pliable dough that feels great on your hands and smells good, too.

1. Pinch Me Therapy Dough

Knead your worries away with this pliable dough that feels great on your hands and smells good, too.

  • Stress-relief method:
    Squishing, molding
  • Scent options:
    Spa, beach, melon, spice, ocean, sun, citrus, chill, tropics
It doesn’t matter if you haven’t touched Play-Doh in 20 years. The satisfaction you get from rolling, molding, and kneading something squishy doesn’t go away with age.
Pinch Me Therapy Dough comes packed in perfectly portable jars and is designed to release tension via kneading, squishing, and rolling. Available in nine colors and scents, like lavender, spice, and melon, you’ll be able to squish your way to inner peace and enjoy some calming aromatherapy in the process. Aromatherapy’s whole thing is about using scents to promote relaxation and general wellbeing, but we can’t prove that it actually works. However, getting a whiff of something pleasant while sitting at your mundane office job could definitely be comforting. 

Something you can wear every day • Unique gear design

Pricey for a stress toy

The Bottom Line

Keep your fingers busy without whipping out a toy with this mesmerizing spinning gear ring.

2. Spinning Gear Ring

The gears in this stainless steel ring move in unison and subtly keep your fingers busy.

  • Stress-relief method:
  • Options::
    Stainless steel, gold, rose gold, gunmetal
For serial finger tappers, pen clickers, or nail biters, this spinning ring keeps your fingers busy thanks to its gratifying turns and silent clicks. Its main selling point is the unique working gear design — but for anyone who cares about style, the stainless steel and intricate details make it a stellar accessory to boot.
Unlike other spinning rings that work with a smaller band inside a larger one, these micro-precision gears actually turn in unison like the gears in a bike. Just watching the video is hypnotizing, and seeing it IRL is guaranteed to have people asking to try it on. (But if you let them, you might not get it back.)

Adds an element of creativity • 31 color options

May be even smaller than you expect • Individual balls are easy to lose

The Bottom Line

Speks has found a way to make magnetic balls squishy, and with 31 color options, the possibilities are endless.

3. Speks Magnetic Balls

Meet the tiny magnetic balls that squish like dough and can create limitless geometric designs.

  • Stress-relief method:
    Squishing, molding
  • Options:
    31 colors to choose from, sizes range from 512 balls to 1,000 balls
When we think of fidget toys, we think of Speks. One of the pioneers in this new wave of stress toys, Speks has found a way to make magnetic balls squish-able. If you’re worried that dough will look too much like playtime when your boss walks by, these are a fun alternative that won’t get your fingers sticky. (It’s such a cool concept that about 15 imposters have popped up on Amazon alone, but Speks is the OG.)
Described as “the original mashable, smashable fun,” these colorful metal sheets are composed of 512 tiny, shiny magnetic balls. (We love anything described as “mashable” for obvious reasons, but these are seriously awesome.) The rare neodymium magnets are strong enough to hold your creations, but can be pulled apart and molded in whatever way that you need. It’s also nice that your creations can be destroyed without making a mess.
Be warned: 2.5 mm is smaller than you realize. This toy should definitely be kept away from children, and maybe people with not-so-nimble fingers.

Looks like decor when not in use

Balls only come in one color

The Bottom Line

Build, roll mindlessly, or store paperclips —whatever it is, Speks Super offers a variety of methods to distract and decompress.

4. Speks Super

These supersized magnetic balls can help release tension, then act as decor when it’s time to be professional.

  • Stress-relief method:
    Rolling, building
  • Options:
    Green base, blue base
Good things may come in small packages, but we’re here to make a case for this oversized stress toy. If the tiny magnetic balls just didn’t look like something you’d use, Speks Super is the supersized version that fits (just barely) in the palm of your hand.
At 33 mm each, these balls come in packs of five and magnify the fun of playing with magnets (pun very much intended). Mindlessly roll two in your hand when you’re on a boring phone call, see how well other magnetic objects stick, or build a museum-worthy sculpture with the included base. 
Speks Super is unique because it doesn’t look like a toy — and doesn’t always have to be. When they’re not being used, the balls can hold your paperclips, house your business cards, or simply be disguised as modern industrial desk decor. No one has to know.

Doubles as an everyday object • Shock-resistant hardshell case

No hole for the pairing button

The Bottom Line

Air Vinyl Design takes an iPhone accessory you’ll already be carrying and makes it an outlet for stress relief.

5. ZenPod

Carry your AirPods in this leather case that doubles as a fidget spinner.

  • Stress-relief method:
  • Options:
    Black, brown
While the once trendy fidget spinner has now found a home in the cheap toy graveyard of Amazon, the attraction to that mindless movement is alive and well. When you need something to spin but aren’t about to carry around an actual toy, ZenPod is an AirPods case that doubles as a fidget spinner. Air Vinyl design might be onto something here.
The case itself is pretty standard: a polycarbonate frame, impact-resistant lining, and classy leather exterior take it a step past the white Apple case. Though the anodized aluminum spinner is a seemingly small addition, it turns something that AirPods owners already carry into an outlet for nervous energy.
Sure, it won’t charge your AirPods or connect your AirPods to your phone when opened, but a fidget-friendly iPhone accessory is just plain neat, and it looks great, too.

Multiple outlets in one toy • Comes with a carrying case • Fun color options

Sound effects can be annoying • Looks childish

The Bottom Line

Why be locked into one way of fidgeting? This cube has up to 12 different stress relievers including buttons, sliders, and massagers.

6. The Fube Fidget Cube

Looking more like a gizmo from “Rick and Morty” than a toy, this cube has 12 different ways to fidget away nerves.

  • Stress-relief method:
    Spinning, clicking, sliding, pushing
  • Options:
    Blue/white with 6 sides, blue/black with 6 sides, black/multicolor with 12 sides, green/multicolor with 12 sides
If a Rubik’s cube and a Bop-It had a baby, it would be this fidget cube — AKA the Fube. Once you get past the fact that it kind of resembles a dog’s chew toy, the attention to detail in this thing is awesome. Buttons, joysticks, gears, and squishy silicone balls are just a few of the stress relievers this toy has to offer. 
PILPOC offers two variations of the Fube, both of which are available in two different colors. The first has a total of six sides and a few less knobs and buttons than the other, but offers some serious distraction methods nonetheless. 
The 12-sided cube is where things really get interesting. Here, you’ll find a joystick, buttons, silicone balls, gears, sliders, a switch, a finger massager, a rope to pull, a rotating disc, and a worry stone. (Not sure about that last one, but moving on.) It’s easy for fingers to get tired of a single motion when done for too long, so the variety here is key. On a shitty day, this is the ultimate toy for taking out some stress.

Just plain adorable • Simple method that can be taken anywhere

Not super durable

The Bottom Line

The simplicity of popping a pea out of its pod has made these keychains one of the internet’s favorite stress toys.

7. Squeeze-a-Bean Keychain

Squeeze out as much stress as you need with these popping bean keychains that are also extremely cute.

  • Stress-relief method:
    Squeezing, popping
  • Options:
    3-pack, 10-pack
Sometimes, all you need is a cute face to squeeze. These soybean keychains are as satisfying for fidgeters as they are adorable, and have quickly become one of the internet’s favorite stress toys. (Just read the reviews.)
How can something so simple be so satisfying? The simplicity is literally the answer: They require no brainpower and are simply there for you to squeeze to your heart’s content. Once a pea is popped out, it immediately goes back into its pod, creating a loop of endless satisfaction. 
Instead of brooding in stress or picking at that zit on your nose, popping these peas over and over can be the outlet you need — and at the very least, they’ll keep your fingers busy as a distraction. They come in packs of three, so your most-used bags and keychains can always have one handy.

Acts as a protective phone case • Subtle satisfaction on the go

Some iPhone models are left out • No options for Samsung or Googlee • Could get annoying for people nearby

The Bottom Line

Popping bubble wrap is no longer a special occasion — this iPhone case lets you do it anywhere.

8. Bubble wrap iPhone case

Take your bubble wrap infatuation everywhere with this iPhone case that can be popped over and over again.

  • Stress-relief method:
  • Options:
    iPhone X in white/pink/black, iPhone 7 in white/pink, iPhone 7 Plus in white/pink/black
Everyone knows at least one person who asks “Can I pop that?” when anyone gets a package with bubble wrap. If that person is you, this bubble wrap iPhone case lets you satisfy that need to pop things — anytime and anywhere. The bubbles can be popped and re-popped as many times as needed to de-stress, and the silicon acts as a relatively impact-resistant shield.
We have a hunch that combining tech and stress toys could very well be the future of the market. Not everyone is comfortable whipping out therapy dough on public transportation, but sensory phone cases or other tech accessories with an added stimulus are an easy way to fidget wherever you are. 
Warning: Not everyone loves popping bubble wrap as much as you do (surprising, we know). This phone’s popping sound effects may get annoying to people around you, so keep that in mind before you pop in close quarters.

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Tesla's in-car browser will be upgraded to Chromium


Tesla’s in-car browser is pretty infamous for being wonky, so it didn’t come as a surprise when someone told Elon Musk on Twitter that they wish it worked consistently. The CEO’s response? Tesla is about to upgrade the in-car browser to Chromium, Google’s open-source browser project. That doesn’t mean the vehicles will be getting Chrome: the Chromium project merely generates code for Chrome and other browsers from companies and vendors outside of Google, including Opera. It’s likely that the Chromium code will just power Tesla’s upgraded browser.

Of course, Musk’s tweet doesn’t really reveal anything when it comes to availability. The updated app could come out really, really soon or years from now. Tesla made previous attempts to release a better browser over the past few years, after all, but it kept getting pushed back. A recent software update seemed to fix the current browser for some people, though, and that may be enough to tide some owners over until the Chromium version comes out.

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