Character from Path 2 Purpose; created by Charad Perkins / Odd DuckCharacter from Path 2 Purpose; created by Charad Perkins / Odd Duck

Path 2 Purpose (P2P), a mental health campaign for youth ages 13-18 struggling with depression and anxiety, aims to teach teens to manage stress and beat the blues with mindfulness, stress-reduction, and relationship-building skills online. Drawing on two decades of research into adolescent depression, P2P uses digital media, toolkits, blog posts, and even comic books to help teens cope during the COVID crisis.

“We are seeing increases in depression, anxiety, and even suicide across the country as a result of the emotional and psychological impact of COVID,” explains Dr. Benjamin Van Voorhees, department head of pediatrics at the University of Illinois at Chicago’s College of Medicine and a principal investigator of the P2P research. “We hope that the P2P Campaign can reach youth online and through social media in areas where there is a lack of mental health resources—for example, rural communities and some neighborhoods in the inner-city.”

A recent psychological survey conducted of 10,368 American adults supported these observations finding the coronavirus pandemic has led to higher depression levels, anxiety, suicidal tendencies, and psychological trauma. Earlier in the summer, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) survey of 5,412 young adults between the ages of 18 and 24 found that 25.5% of respondents reported having seriously considered suicide in the previous 30 days.

“Many of the things we would recommend to deal with uncertainty and stress—establishing routines, spending time with friends and family, taking up a new sport or hobby—are compromised by COVID circumstances,” said Dr. Tracy Gladstone, a senior research scientist at the Wellesley Centers for Women at Wellesley College and a principal investigator on the project. “Through the P2P campaign, we are highlighting effective, evidence-based techniques that teens can use to manage their stress during an extraordinarily difficult time.”

The Path 2 Purpose Campaign is based on a long-term adolescent depression prevention study using public health strategies for mental health by enhancing community supports. The study component is ongoing and currently accepting young people, ages 13-18, in Illinois, Kentucky, and Massachusetts. The P2P digital platform based at is nationwide and will be updated with new tips, suggestions, and COVID-specific storylines every week.

About Path 2 Purpose: Evidence-based mental health tips and techniques to help cope with the COVID outbreak, the stay-at-home blues, depression, anxiety, and more can be found at Learn more about the free, voluntary research study called Path 2 Purpose (P2P) at 1-877-268-PATH (7284); or Use this link to sign-up today: Funded by the Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute Project. The project is now enrolling adolescents in 3 states (Illinois, Kentucky, and Massachusetts). Outreach includes direct involvement of several health systems KSB (Dixon), UI Health (Chicago and Rockford), and Advocate Children’s Hospital. This project is funded as a COVID-19 supplementary project.

October 8, 2020

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