What is SOVA?

“SOVA” (Supporting Our Valued Adolescents) is a research project that aims to study how to help young people with depression and anxiety. It includes two websites: SOVA for young people and wiseSOVA for parents.

What is the problem SOVA is trying to address?

Depression is a common problem in the U.S. and globally. About 10% of adolescents have had a major depressive episode. About a quarter to half of depressed adolescents also have anxiety. Unfortunately only one third have received any help. And even if they do receive some help, they might not follow through with getting enough treatment. There are many reasons to explain this – but one issue is that parents and young people may benefit from understanding more about what depression is, what treatments can help, and why there is no reason to feel bad about getting help. Young people and their parents already use social media to talk to each other about depression.

We think by connecting young people to each other, and parents to each other, in separate social media sites, they can learn about depression, anxiety, and treatment from each other and a therapist moderator in a safe space.

Why are we researching a website?

As researchers, we know it is important to show whether an intervention like SOVA has evidence to back it up. The design of SOVA is based on a review of the research literature, theory of access to healthcare services and behavior change, and discussion with stakeholders in adolescent depression including parents, adolescents and young adults, clinicians, and advocates. Even with all this input, without conducting research, we cannot know if, how, and whom SOVA can help.

What stage of the research are you in?

Currently we are done with the feasibility phase of the research project and have shown that people think SOVA and wiseSOVA are user-friendly sites! We now are working on making the sites more interactive so we can build a community here on SOVA of young people with advice and input to offer! We are working on developing an app.  After that, our next step will be testing whether this website will help adolescents referred by their primary care doctor for treatment for depression or anxiety.

Can I get therapy on this site?

No. Currently, SOVA is a blog with an online community of users. Our moderators are here to make sure the environment is safe and beneficial for you. The SOVA websites are monitored by moderators who have experience in behavioral health and are overseen by the project head, Dr. Radovic, a physician in pediatrics and adolescent specialist. Moderators provide support with answering questions and making sure conversations between peers are safe. They DO NOT provide online therapy but can help with a referral. If you are in need of further resources please see our resources page.

How can I get involved? 

  • Read our posts!
  • Comment on our posts by answering the questions at the end of the blog posts or with whatever you feel would be useful to others
  • Let us know if you want to write blog posts (we’ll have more information on this soon but email us if you are already interested and we’ll keep you in the loop!)
  • Give us feedback on what you think should be different about the site
  • Tell your friends about our site!
  • Like us on Facebook!
  • Follow us on Twitter and Instagram!
  • Subscribe to our YouTube channel
  • Tell your parents to try out wiseSOVA

We hope you stay tuned to find out what we learn!

Feel free to contact us by email to learn more about this study.

Meet our Team

Read our Community Guide