Date of Graduation

Winter 12-2020

Document Type

Project/Capstone

Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)

College/School

School of Nursing and Health Professions

First Advisor

Kelly McDermott, PhD

Abstract

The following discusses adolescent depression and anxiety and the utilization of physical activity as an intervention or coping mechanism. Adolescents have been experiencing increased rates of anxiety or depression diagnoses over the past roughly two decades. Adolescence is, physiologically, a formative period in the developmental stage from childhood to adulthood. Current barriers to achieving optimal mental health among the adolescent population include the stigmatization of mental health issues, lack of education, socioeconomic status and healthcare access. Further, physical activity has been studied and identified to be an effective treatment for individuals experiencing depression and anxiety. In an effort to treat the adolescent population experiencing mental health issues, the following discusses the proposal of utilizing a peer-led exercise workshop to combat depression and anxiety. Move for a Healthy Mind is a program that combines physical exercise and education for adolescents and guardians to target adolescent depression and anxiety with a goal of preventing or improving symptoms of depression and anxiety. The program is modeled based on a number of successful existing programs and studies with a goal to improve or prevent symptoms of depression and anxiety among adolescent-aged students. The program will deploy trained volunteers known as Mental Health Ambassadors, ages 17-18, to participating middle schools and high schools to conduct a two-part peer-to-peer workshop including classroom discussion and physical exercise. The program intends to tackle mental health stigma, improve physical health, and inform adolescents and parents of available mental health resources.

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