Club Unity Summit: Supporting Students Mental Health

On Saturday, October 16th, Snap and Active Minds hosted the first-ever Club Unity Summit, a virtual mental health and wellbeing workshop for college students from across the United States. Over the course of the afternoon students discussed mental health and self care tips with Club Unity board members Halima Aden, Chloe x Halle, Rickey Thompson, Trae Young, Maddie Ziegler, and Yusuf Omar, and participated in breakout sessions led by Active Minds. 

For the keynote event, U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy joined Snap CEO Evan Spiegel for a conversation on the ways young people can support one another in their mental health journey. In addition, they discussed how our physical health and mental health are often intertwined especially when it comes to substance abuse, and the role tech platforms can play in supporting the mental wellbeing of young people. 

From Snap’s earliest days, we have been inspired by the power that real friendships have in determining health and happiness. It is why we designed Snapchat to empower young people to express themselves authentically. And as a platform built for communicating with your closest friends, we believe Snapchat has a unique opportunity to make a difference and have built in-app resources and features to support our community. 

In celebration of World Mental Health Day, Snap has expanded its in-app mental health resource hub, Here For You, with new resources from Active Minds focused on how to start tough conversations with friends, active listening tips, and affirmations. These resources easily surface to Snapchatters when they search common mental health terms like anxiety, depression, and stress, and are designed to be easily shared with close friends and family so Snapchatter can help support one another through the highs and lows. 

You can watch Evan Spiegel’s conversation with the U.S. Surgeon General in full here and read highlights below:

Dr. Murthy on the ways to address the stigma surrounding mental health: 

The longer we don't confront (our mental challenges), the longer they persist and more deeply they can affect us. But on the other hand, if we address our mental health challenges early on, we can actually turn them into strengths. They can make us more open and vulnerable and able to connect with other people. They can make us more empathic and more understanding of the challenges that other people go through. 

Dr. Murthy on how mental health intersects with substance abuse:

There is a very strong connection between our mental health and substance use disorders...when people struggle, in fact, with greater depression and with bouts of anxiety, when they have increased stress in their lives, that can often be a trigger actually for a relapse, a reason for them to turn to substances in part to numb the pain that they feel.

Sometimes some of the most powerful advice that you can get comes from your friends -- and that means that you are an incredibly important resource for the people in your life. And if you see people using or misusing these substances, never hesitate to have a conversation with them. If you're worried, and I know that's hard, right? And it feels like you're but doing into someone else's business or that you're being nosy, that you're not being preachy with them. But let me tell you this of the many people that I have known and cared for, who have lost loved ones over the years to opioid use overdoses. So many of them wish somebody in their loved one's life and thought to say something early on when they first noticed that there was a problem. So never doubt that that's the conversation that you have with somebody, with a friend who you see is having a hard time or misusing opioids.

Dr. Murthy on the role tech platforms can play in supporting the mental health and wellbeing of young people:

It's how we use [technology] that determines whether it helps us or whether it harms us. And I think that there's a lot of benefit that people can get in their lives from social platforms, the opportunity to find a community where they may not have one to share experiences in initially safer settings to find resources and help you know, and to build relationships that can all be very, very positive. But a couple of things that I do worry about one is that in order to really achieve those benefits, we have to be very thoughtful in how we design social platforms. Our goal is to help support the mental health and wellbeing of people to help them build healthy relationships. And we have to design our platforms, and then design from an engineering to a front end design perspective, in order to achieve those ends. 

Dr. Murthy on the ways we can change the culture around mental health: 

I want young people to know that you don't have to be a policymaker or run a major company, for you to be able to change a culture around mental health. You just have to have the courage to share your story. You have to have the courage to call for change, to advocate, for change. And that's what a lot of young people are doing. That's why I feel optimistic. We can change our culture on mental health and ultimately create, I think, a society and a culture that's healthier and stronger because it embraces mental and physical wellbeing.