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16-year-old girl creates ‘notOK’ app to help others with depression, we look at how to deal with at-risk teens




LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 03: App logos is displayed on an iPhone on August 3, 2016 in London, England.  (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 03: App logos is displayed on an iPhone on August 3, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)
Carl Court/Getty Images

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Hannah Lucas, a 16-year-old high school sophomore from Georgia developed a disorder called postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS), which causes her to faint.

Struggling with this condition, Hannah quickly fell into depression. She thought of ways that would help her alert close friends and family whenever she was experiencing a low point. That is when she sought the help of her younger brother. Charlie, 13, used coding skills he learned in summer camp to design a smartphone app. Together, partnering with developers, the siblings created the NotOK app. The app has a digital panic button available at one’s fingertips. Users can send a text message to up to five preselected contacts along with a link to their current GPS location. Contacts on the receiving end get a message that says, “Hey, I'm not OK. Please call me, text me, or come find me.”

The need for such app begs the conversation around teen depression. While Hannah took matters into her own hands, not all teens do the same. Depression rates are on the rise among teenagers, according to health insurance data. We look at the best methods to approach a teenager, who is struggling with depression, and how to start a healthy conversation.

If you are in need of support, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 1-800-273-8255, for free and confidential help 24 hours a day, seven days a week. 

With guest host Libby Denkmann

Guests:

Sermed Alkass, managing psychologist at the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health

Connie Horton, licensed psychologist and vice president for student affairs at Pepperdine University; former director of the Counseling Center at Pepperdine and Illinois Wesleyan universities where her focus included college mental health

Bridgid Conn, clinical psychologist at the Division of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine at the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA), where her focus includes teen depression and suicide