He’s known for creating hilarious TV shows. But his advice on depression is damn good.

If you know the Adult Swim hit show, “Rick and Morty,” then you know it’s famous and adored for its bizarre, almost incomprehensible sense of humor. Its co-creator, Dan Harmon, was also the driving creative force behind the wacky NBC comedy “Community.”

Though Harmon has plenty of devoted fans, based on his work — and his history of occasionally lashing out on social media — you probably wouldn’t peg him as the “role model” type.

But … people tend to turn to their heroes in times of need. For one Twitter user and Harmon fan, that hero delivered. Big time.

Late Monday night, Twitter user @chojuroh posed a simple and somewhat out-of-left-field question to Harmon: “Do you have advice for dealing with depression?”

The question was posed late at night, but within an hour, Harmon had begun unfurling an incredibly thoughtful and compassionate response.

“For One: Admit and accept that it’s happening,” Harmon tweeted, acknowledging the very real stigma that still exists around depression.

“Awareness is everything,” he continued. “We put ourselves under so much pressure to feel good. It’s okay to feel bad. It might be something you’re good at! Communicate it. DO NOT KEEP IT SECRET. Own it. Like a hat or jacket. Your feelings are real.”

“Two: try to remind yourself, over and over, that feelings are real but they aren’t reality,” he advised in a second tweet. “Example: you can feel like life means nothing. True feeling. Important feeling. TRUE that you feel it, BUT…whether life has meaning? Not up to us. Facts and feelings: equal but different.”

He wrapped up with a final plea to anyone dealing with depression: Don’t feel like you have to face it alone, even if your only partner is a journal.

“The most important thing I can say to you is please don’t deal with it alone,” he wrote. “There is an incredible, miraculous magic to pushing your feelings out. Even writing ‘I want to die’ on a piece of paper and burning it will feel better than thinking about it alone. Output is magical.”

All in all, it’s an amazingly thoughtful response from a man who once created a 30-minute episode about a scientist turning himself into a pickle.

For as much as he’s known as a funny guy, Harmon has been open in the past about his own struggles with anxiety, alcoholism, and being in and out of therapy.

The guy knows his stuff. His spot-on advice for dealing with depression quickly went viral on Twitter and Reddit, giving thousands of people a little boost of motivation or just the reassurance that someone out there understands what they’re going through.

Harmon has been making people laugh for years — a gift in and of itself. But it’s awesome to see someone with his level of influence speaking openly to help destigmatize a condition that affects hundreds of millions of people around the world.

If you or someone you love is struggling with depression, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 or visit their website for more information.

Read more: http://www.upworthy.com/he-s-known-for-creating-hilarious-tv-shows-but-his-advice-on-depression-is-damn-good

ABC’s Ginger Zee candidly, courageously opened up about her suicide attempt.

Warning: Suicide is discussed in this article.

Photo by Jemal Countess/Getty Images for Hearst.

Ginger Zee, chief meteorologist at ABC News, knows most viewers only see her through her done-up, smiley, scripted appearances on “Good Morning America.” Her new book aims to change that.

“This is the anti-Instagram book,” the on-air personality told People magazine, noting it won’t present her life story in a polished, picture-perfect way. “I’m so worried, because there’s still a part of me thinking, ‘Oh gosh, this is a lot to tell people.'”

In her book, “Natural Disaster: I Cover Them. I Am One,” the 36-year-old opens up about her battles with mental illness going back several years.

Zee was 21 years old, fresh out of college and living with a former boyfriend, when she attempted suicide.

Fortunately, the amount and combination of drugs she swallowed wasn’t lethal. After being admitted to the hospital, however, she was diagnosed with depression.

Photo by Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images for Women’s Health Magazine.

“I’d lost all hope,” Zee told People. “I just shut down. [Life] wasn’t worth living. I was wasting people’s time and space.”

In retrospect, Zee attributes her suicide attempt at least in part to being newly diagnosed with narcolepsy and ill-prepared to handle a medication’s powerful effects; her senses had been heightened — emotional highs were very high, and emotional lows were very low.

Regardless, her mental health desperately needed addressing. As depression is one of the most common type of mental illness, Zee understood she wasn’t alone. In 2015, about 16.1 million American adults experienced at least one major depressive episode in the past year, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.

As the Mayo Clinic pointed out, there are various medical reasons why people experience depression, from a person’s genetic traits, to brain chemistry and hormonal imbalances. External factors — like stress and trauma — can also contribute, research has found.

“It’s scary, the way your mind can overpower what is real and what is right,” Zee said. “Now as a mother, to think that that could be my child? That is frightening.”

Zee (right) and her husband, Ben Aaron. Photo by Paul Zimmerman/Getty Images for Women’s Health.

Zee’s life with depression has been an ongoing journey. In 2011, ten days before starting her new, lucrative gig at ABC News, Zee checked herself into a medical facility in New York City, sensing her mental health was spiraling. She didn’t want her career and personal life to suffer.

“I realize, too, that just because I’ve been in a good place for six years and I’ve gotten myself to a much healthier mental state… I don’t think that I’m cured,” Zee told People. “I don’t think anybody’s forever cured.”

Now, she’s decided to share her story so that others know the best thing they can do is express and address what they’re feeling internally: “Being aware of [depression], sharing it, talking about it, this is where I hope that the healing happens.”

Need help? Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255).

Read more: http://www.upworthy.com/abc-s-ginger-zee-candidly-courageously-opened-up-about-her-suicide-attempt

Think seeing traumatic events doesn’t faze first responders? Think again.

“I’m good to go” is a phrase that Marines and first responders like Mike Washington are usually all too familiar with.

It’s often the knee-jerk response to the call of duty, even if emotionally they’re anything but “good.”

“As firefighters, as law enforcement, as military, we try to play that tough image,” explains Washington, a firefighter for the Seattle Fire Department. “And we wouldn’t share if we’re having a hard time dealing with something. We internalize it.”

Mike Washington, Seattle firefighter. All photos provided by Starbucks.

Washington’s been a firefighter for 29 years, and before that, he did four combat tours with the Marine Corps. He always sought a life of action, but what he didn’t consider was how other people’s traumas might affect him.

“Seeing that level of human tragedy, of a car accident or a shooting or a murder — it takes a toll,” Washington says.

But it was losing his son in 2008 that was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

Washington and his son.

While at work, he learned his son, Marine Sgt. Michael T. Washington, had been killed in action in Afghanistan. Even though he was completely devastated, he didn’t let anyone see him cry, not even at the funeral.

But this time, the strain of emotional suppression was too much to bear.

He began drinking heavily. He got into bar fights and fights with his colleagues. He’d even run through red lights on his motorcycle in hopes that someone would hit him and end his suffering.

Washington at his son’s grave.

After several years of witnessing this distressing behavior, his veteran friends knew Washington needed help.

They organized a post-traumatic stress retreat to a place called Save a Warrior — a weeklong detox program designed to help veterans cope with their trauma.

Through counseling, he began to come to terms with the years of trauma he’d experienced and even uncover incidents he’d buried so deeply that he had no memory of them.

“You will see things that you can’t un-see,” Washington says. “We ignore it, but they’re ticking time bombs. And if we don’t learn ways to deal with that stress, to work with that stress, eventually it’s all going to catch up to you.”

Slowly but surely, Washington began to recover — and it didn’t take long for him to realize the best way for him to continue healing was to help other first responders.

Washington with first responders in Critical Incident Stress Management.

So he joined the Seattle Fire Department’s Critical Incident Stress Management Team, a national effort to help first responders relieve their emotional stress by talking through it.

The goal of the program is to show first responders from day one that they don’t have to keep it all inside. There are much better ways of coping that will keep you healthier and happier on the job.

That’s why Washington is as candid as possible when describing his own trauma with those he is trying to help. “I don’t want another firefighter to be in this situation where I was, and the way to do that was to just lay myself out and just say ‘here it is,'” Washington explains.

And so far, Washington’s support has helped several of his colleagues, including firefighter Denny Fenstermaker.

Fenstermaker had been a firefighter for 39 years, but in March 2014, he witnessed destruction and tragedy like he’d never seen before.

First responders on the scene of the Oso, Washington, mudslide.

Oso, Washington, a town near where Fenstermaker was fire chief, was devastated by a mudslide, so he led in a crew to rescue survivors. In the process, Fenstermaker wound up uncovering bodies of many people he knew, and the experience took a toll on him — to the point where he felt like he was losing his ability to lead.

Thankfully, Seattle’s Critical Incident Stress Management Team came on the scene, and Fenstermaker met Washington. They connected right away, and Fenstermaker started opening up to him.

“This is a guy that understands exactly where I’m at because he’s already been there,” Fenstermaker explains.

Washington talks to a veteran with two other firefighters.

Washington feels like he’s a better person and firefighter because he’s no longer keeping his traumas inside. His all around courage is helping so many others find their way again.

Trauma can affect anyone, no matter how strong they are. But talking about it is the first and most important step back from the edge.

Learn more about Washington’s story here:

Upstanders: The Firefighters’ Rescue

This program is making mental health a priority for firefighters.

Posted by Upworthy on Thursday, November 16, 2017

Read more: http://www.upworthy.com/think-seeing-traumatic-events-doesnt-faze-first-responders-think-again

Saying depression is a ‘choice’ only makes things worse. Allow Andy Richter to explain.

Photo by Mike Windle/Getty Images for SiriusXM.

Depression is not a choice, and anyone who says otherwise is just plain wrong.

After reading a tweet that simply said, “Depression is a choice,” actor, writer, and comedian Andy Richter was so angry that he “pulled over after school drop-off” to vent on Twitter about what it’s like to live with depression and be constantly bombarded with unhelpful “advice” that so often amounts to little more than blame for those living with it.

“[Depression] varies in strength from a casual unresolvable suspicion that I will never find the joy that others do in a sunset, to the feeling that being dead might be a respite and a kindness,” he tweeted, highlighting how difficult the hazy experience of living with depression can be to describe.

He also draws an important distinction between having good things in one’s life — such as a great family and successful career — and being dealt a bad hand when it came to the genetic lottery of depression, a feeling he describes as “an ever-present amorphous sadness.”

“My life is full. I am lucky,” he tweeted. “And I will still reach the end of my life having walked through most of it with an emotional limp. I do not wallow in self-pity. No one did this to me. It is just how it is. I am just unlucky.”

Saying things like “depression is a choice” is not only wrong, it also keeps people from seeking the help they need.

Depression is really common. In fact, according to the National Institute of Mental Health, an estimated 16.1 million U.S. adults 18 or older experienced at least one major depressive episode in 2015, accounting for 6.7% of all adults in the country.

Left untreated, depression can lead to all matters of problems, ranging from an inability to focus on work, all the way up to suicide — making the stigma surrounding treatment that much more frustrating.

Sadly, studies have shown that there are still significant segments of the population that view depression and mental illness as a form of weakness. In turn, that attitude reflects on back the person dealing with depression, making them feel embarrassed to seek treatment.

“If you are unburdened by depression, real true depression, count yourself lucky,” Richter wrote.

“Keep your quick fixes to yourself. This is the kind of bullshit that kills people. Learn, then speak. Or just be lucky and quiet,” he wrapped his thoughts.

The way we fight stigma is by using our voices to let the world know we exist. Today, Andy Richter did just that.

If you or someone you love is struggling with depression, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 or visit their website for more information.

Read more: http://www.upworthy.com/saying-depression-is-a-choice-only-makes-things-worse-allow-andy-richter-to-explain

For those struggling with addiction, exercise offers hope for a sober future.

Anyone affected by substance abuse knows that knowledge of the problem alone can’t help beat the disease.

For Todd Crandell, it took three drunken driving charges and 13 years of consequences to decide to get sober despite that he lost both his mom and uncle to addiction.

Crandell’s mugshot. Image via Racing for Recovery.

He knew that turning things around wouldn’t be easy, as it often isn’t when we rely on something to help us function or, ironically, escape. Facing the world with wounds open and learning to live life all over again is no easy task.

So how did he do it? He stopped running from himself and started running toward something more meaningful.

Image via Racing for Recovery.

There’s plenty of evidence that points to the benefits of fitness for preventing relapse, with preliminary studies noting that regular exercise leads to better health outcomes for those susceptible to substance abuse. It’s also known to help tackle stress, anxiety, and depression, all challenges associated with recovery.

There are a lot of theories as to why it works. It could be the social component, the distraction it offers — boredom is the enemy of sobriety after all — or the neurobiological impact (ever hear of a “runner’s high”?).

“Not only does it help improve our physical condition, it is a mental, spiritual, and emotional enhancer as well … it also helps to reduce cravings for drugs early in addiction,” Crandell says.

It’s a path many have taken; an addictive personality can thrive when pushing limits and enduring physical intensity.

Image via Racing for Recovery.

Determined to take a different route, Crandell looked for healthy outlets to sustain him and invested his energy in a healthier lifestyle, with physical fitness being a major part of his recovery.

The chemical rewards of exercise can be an amazing rush and help boost self-confidence, too.

“With each step, pedal of bike, or swim stroke, or doing yoga, I am improving physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually,” he explains. “It allows me to be my best for myself and others.”

It was after his fourth Ironman triathlon in New Zealand that Crandell caught the attention of local press. “The response was overwhelming,” he says.

Image via Racing for Recovery.

Realizing he was onto something, he literally ran with it, starting a nonprofit called Racing for Recovery in 2001.

The organization aims to prevent substance abuse by promoting a healthy lifestyle for people affected by addiction.

“I get to help both recovering people and their families,” he shares, “and to watch heartbreaking situations evolve into healing is awesome.”

In the years since its founding, Racing for Recovery has evolved. The organization hosts 10 support groups weekly, 5Ks and 10Ks galore (running or walking, whichever is your speed), social events for connecting with others in recovery, educational groups, counseling, film screenings, and much more.

At the heart of it all? A passion for health, a commitment to recovery, and Crandell’s determination to help others find both.

Image via Racing for Recovery.

“If I can do this, so can you,” Crandell says.

“Asking for help is not weakness, but rather it is giving yourself the opportunity to live the sober life you deserve.”

Crandell hopes the organization will grow from here. Residential housing is in the works, programming continues to expand, and he wants to bring the approach to other cities and countries where it’s needed.

Crandell has seen firsthand the transformative power of fitness for those struggling with addiction and trauma — something he’s both lived as a survivor and witnessed as a licensed chemical dependency counselor and licensed professional clinical counselor.

Image via Racing for Recovery.

Substance abuse is an incredible challenge, one that millions of adults face every day in this country. Even so, Crandell’s journey is undeniable proof that there’s still hope and that dependency isn’t destiny.

The first step is often the most difficult. But for Crandell, that first step has taken him all around the world, affecting countless lives along the way. If that’s not a reason to be hopeful, I don’t know what is.

Read more: http://www.upworthy.com/for-those-struggling-with-addiction-exercise-offers-hope-for-a-sober-future

This doctor knew he could save lives. But would his conservative legislature let him?

When Dr. Hansel Tookes stood before his conservative Florida legislature, he knew he had an uphill battle ahead of him.

But there were too many lives at stake not to try.

His voice was clear and unwavering when he asked the legislature to consider a bill that would allow him to provide drug users with clean needles.

At that time in Florida, it was illegal to do so — and as a result, Miami led the nation in new HIV and hepatitis C infections.

All photos provided by Starbucks.

Tookes knew the use of dirty needles was a pervasive problem. Some drug users were picking them up directly off the ground, desperate for relief but unable to access clean needles to prevent further harm to themselves.

This accelerated the spread of disease in the community.

“The simple epiphany that Florida needed syringe exchange came when I was a third-year medical student,” he explains.

Clean needles can make all the difference: In fact, Tookes says, the evidence behind needle exchanges as a prevention tool is strong — as strong as the evidence that smoking cessation prevents cancer.

“We have this tool that we were withholding from this vulnerable population,” he says. But harm reduction isn’t always the first line of defense when it comes to public health, especially for those who believe in a more punitive approach to substance abuse.

Tookes knew that the idea of providing drug users with needles would be a tough sell, but he was determined.

When he reached out to Tim Stapleton, head of the Florida Medical Association, Stapleton was skeptical at first. “I thought that [he would] become discouraged,” he shares. “[But] he wasn’t going to let anything stop him.”

Thus began Tookes’ journey as an advocate and his seven-and-a-half hour drives to Tallahassee, working the capital and building momentum to change the law — and change the lives of drug users in Florida.

It took several years of advocacy work, but astonishingly, the bill did pass, with an overwhelming majority of the legislature backing him.

“Every time he hit a wall, he just figured out how to get over that wall,” Stapleton explained.

And Tookes’ persistence paid off.

On Dec. 1, 2016 — fittingly, World AIDS Day — the first needle exchange program in the state of Florida opened.

“We serve 250 people regularly,” Tookes explains, “And we do an intake where we offer anonymous HIV and hepatitis C testing.”

The exchange also began offering the overdose-reversing drug Naloxone (Narcan) in April — a decision that has already prevented numerous tragedies.

In just the first month, 16 lives were saved.

“So many people are dying,” Tookes says. “We had a responsibility to do something about that.”

The impact was undeniable. One center visitor, struggling with addiction, shared his own story of when he saw someone in the midst of an overdose.

“I had my Narcan, and I sprayed him. Within a minute or so, he started breathing normal,” he explained. “We don’t want to die. None of us do.”

Without the exchange offering access to Narcan, though, these completely preventable deaths would become repeated tragedies.

With unintentional drug overdose a leading cause of preventable death in the United States, creating access to Narcan can have a huge impact on local communities.

“Everybody’s life is valuable,” Tookes says. “Everyone’s.”

And it was that conviction that helped Tookes see this cause through, as a medical student with a desire to make a difference and now as an advocate saving lives and preventing the spread of dangerous diseases.

Check out his incredible story below:

He saw an HIV epidemic in Miami and decided to stand up and take action.

Posted by Upworthy on Wednesday, October 25, 2017

While Tookes began his journey in public health facing resistance and skepticism, his persistence — and his commitment to those most vulnerable in his community — has truly made a difference.

Read more: http://www.upworthy.com/this-doctor-knew-he-could-save-lives-but-would-his-conservative-legislature-let-him

Kids playing with electronic devices too much? This program will get them on their feet.

Little Candace scored six three-pointers in her basketball game this weekend. Too bad it was on her iPad and not on the court.

Sound familiar to any parents out there? Kids spending an inordinate amount of time in front of electronics instead of getting up and running around on their own two feet?

Well, mom Kathleen Tullie was not a fan of this scenario, so she decided to create a morning fitness program to get kids going before school.

But she had to fight for it, even with a community of parents behind her.

Kathleen Tullie, founder of BOKS. Photo via BOKS.

Tullie was a seasoned businesswoman when a downturn in the market and her cancer diagnosis convinced her to give up her career and become a stay-at-home mom. While reading a book called “Spark” by John Ratey about how regular exercise has the power to improve brain functionality, she was inspired to take a hard look at her kids’ school’s physical fitness program.

“We have an obesity and mental health crisis — why are we not letting our kids run around before school? I had elementary school kids, and they were only getting PE at school once a week,” says Tullie.

She brought the idea of a before-school fitness program run by parents to her kids’ school principal.

Kids in BOKS program doing jumping jacks. Photo via Kathleen Tullie.

It seemed like a no-brainer, but even armed with a group of parents committed to hosting the program, the principal gave a resounding “no.”

He thought it would be too much trouble.

Naturally, that didn’t stop Tullie. She kicked the idea over to the superintendent, who loved it and told her to run with it (pun intended).

She then sent out an email announcing the program to all the parents, and within a week, nearly 100 kids were geared up to go.

Once it was in full swing, she started receiving tons of emails from parents and teachers saying what a profound impact the workout was having on their kids.

They were sleeping better, had better attitudes, and were performing better academically.

Kid running in BOKS program. Photo via BOKS.

Tullie never imagined the interest it would get and decided to form a nonprofit to elevate her mission.

First, she wrote to that author, John Ratey, to tell him of her plans for the nonprofit. He immediately wrote back saying, “I’ll be a director. Let’s start something.”  

Then Tullie went to Reebok to see if they’d be willing to do a T-shirt sponsorship. She ended up speaking to Matt O’Toole, Reebok’s CEO, about the program for two hours.

He told her he loved what she was doing and wanted to back them to “help reinvigorate a culture of participants.”

Just like that, they were taken under the umbrella of the Reebok Foundation, and the program became known as BOKS.

From there, BOKS spread like wildfire. Seven years later, it’s now in 2,500 schools and four different countries.

BOKS kids running a relay race. Photo via Kathleen Tullie.

Tullie, along with her original “Mom Team” Cheri Levitz and Jen Lawrence, could not be more thrilled that BOKS took off. Sure, there were hard times, like the first year and a half when none of them took home a paycheck, but their dedication paid off in a big way.

“I feel like I’ve been given this opportunity where I have to make a difference,” says Tullie. “I want to get to the point where every school is active.”

Her son and daughter are now 13 and 16, love fitness and play all sorts of sports. She hopes her endeavor has inspired them to go after their dreams with everything they’ve got.

What fuels Tullie most are the incredible success stories she hears from parents, teachers, and trainers all the time.

A trainer with kids playing BOKS games. Photo via Kathleen Tullie.

One woman in particular who always stands out as truly inspiring to her is Jesse Farren James, a mom from Boston who’s been a lead trainer at an inner-city school for two and a half years and has always struggled with her weight.

When it was first suggested she become lead trainer, she wasn’t sure she’d be an appropriate role model, but that quickly changed.

“BOKS gave me a chance to show kids that no matter what size and shape you are, if you are a natural born athlete or have a lot to work on, BOKS is fun,” writes James in an email. “BOKS reminded me that fat or thin, I am of use. I can make a difference, a big one.”

That’s why Tullie’s goal is for there to be a program like BOKS in every school. If kids see fitness as fun, accessible, and totally inclusive, they might make it part of their routine for the rest of their lives.

Interested in bringing BOKS to your community? Sign up for their training program here.

Find out more about what BOKS is all about here:

Our children are expected to live five fewer years than we will. And it’s from something preventable.

Posted by Upworthy on Friday, October 27, 2017

Read more: http://www.upworthy.com/kids-playing-with-electronic-devices-too-much-this-program-will-get-them-on-their-feet

Wondering how to help after a tragic news story? This bot might have the answer.

There’s a lot going on in the world right now, and it makes total sense if you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed. I am too.

Hurricane recovery, wildfires ripping along the West Coast, rising tensions with North Korea, repeated threats to the state of health care in this country, trans people being banned from the military, people from other countries being banned from traveling here, Title IX protections being reinterpreted, environmental protections being gutted, professional sports becoming a divisive topic — the list goes on and on.

Maybe one of these causes really hits home for you. Maybe you want to help, but don’t know where to even start. I hear that, and as someone who is both plugged into current events and prone to anxiety attacks when presented with complicated situations, getting involved can be really overwhelming.

I’ve turned to robots for help. Yes, robots.

A slew of new chatbots have come out in the past year or so, and they’re really useful for people, like me, who are feeling overwhelmed by the world around them.

Some chatbots, such as infinite conversation application Cleverbot, are little more than novelties, but others are actually improving lives in tangible ways.

DoNotPay is a chatbot that started out as a way to automatically challenge parking tickets in court, but now includes the ability to sue Equifax in the wake of its massive data breach. Other bots, such as 5 Calls and Resistbot, make contacting your representatives in Congress a breeze.

One of the newest chatbots I’ve added to my life recently is called Hope.

When you open up the app’s chat dialogue in your phone’s browser, you’re presented with a handful of the day’s top stories. Tell it which one you’re curious about, and it will ask if you’re interested in getting more context, want links to more detailed sources, or it gives you the option of learning how you can help.

The interface is simple, feels natural, and makes for a pretty smooth user experience for chatbot power-users as well as relative newbies. I was drawn in by its ability to distill overwhelming events into single action items. For example, if you select the “How can I help?” option when reading about recovery in Puerto Rico, you’ll be prompted to donate to either the Hispanic Federation, a nonprofit currently being promoted by Lin-Manuel Miranda, or Bethenny Frankel’s B Strong initiative. Clicking “Donate” takes you directly to the individual charities’ websites.

“Sometimes we’ll see a really cool action [people can take] tied to a news story and build it out from there,” says Marisa Kabas, Hope’s editorial director, describing the process as a bit of a “chicken and egg” situation.

One thing Kabas and her team ask themselves before highlighting a story on Hope is whether there’s actually something people can do with the news item. In other words, it’s unlikely you’ll see much about Trump’s tweets or the controversy in reaction to those tweets on Hope. Kabas says that those types of stories are “just adding to the noise” and are often unproductive.

While the simplicity and narrow focus of Hope is one of its strengths, it’s also one of the bot’s biggest weaknesses, as its “help” options are currently limited to a somewhat sparse selection of topics. Still, if you’re feeling stressed, but interested in finding out how to get involved in a specific cause, Hope is a pretty solid first place to check.

Whether you’re looking for a new way to consume news, contact your representatives, or take action, there’s probably a chatbot out there for you.

Maybe, like me, you’re easily overwhelmed by what Kabas refers to as “the noise,” the superfluous-yet-predictable result of a 24-hour news and entertainment media. Or maybe, like so many of us, you’re just really busy and don’t have time to tackle every thing happening in the world all at once.

The bots mentioned above are great because they do a lot of the work for you, helping you be informed while giving you real, tangible things you can do to make your life even just a little bit easier.

Disclaimer: We were not paid to promote any of the products mentioned in this article. We just thought they were pretty cool.

Read more: http://www.upworthy.com/wondering-how-to-help-after-a-tragic-news-story-this-bot-might-have-the-answer

Starting school too early could be dangerous for teens, even if they do everything right.

No coffee after 6 p.m. Phone is off at 8 p.m. Asleep by 11 p.m. And your teenager is still exhausted, anxious, and irritable the next day?

If they start school at the crack of dawn, that bad attitude might be more than just adolescent moodiness.

A new study conducted by researchers at the University of Rochester Medical Center found that middle and high school students who start school before 8:30 a.m. might be at a higher risk of depression and anxiety — even among those who do everything else “right.”

“While there are other variables that need to be explored, our findings show that earlier school start times seem to put more pressure on the sleep process and increase mental health symptoms, while later school start times appear to be a strong protective factor for teens,” lead author Jack Peltz, clinical assistant professor in psychiatry at the University of Rochester, said in a press release.

The researchers monitored the sleep hygiene habits, sleep quality and duration, and depression and anxiety symptoms of two groups of students — one made up of those who started school before 8:30 a.m. and one comprised of those who started later — over a seven-day period.

While students who instituted good routines — turning off electronics, early bedtimes, etc. — showed improved outcomes across the board, those who started school earlier still reported more mental health challenges.

A 2015 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that fewer than 1 in 5 U.S. middle and high school students start school at 8:30 a.m. or later.

Historically, districts have implemented early morning start times in order to align student schedules with parent work schedules and allot time for after-school activities.

While other recent studies have found that an 8:30 a.m.-or-later bell can benefit students, the Rochester study is among the first to isolate a direct negative link between early start times and adolescent mental health.

Meanwhile, the movement to let kids sleep is small, but growing.

In 2016, the American Medical Association came out in favor of later school start times, citing data that middle and high school students require 8.5 to 9.5 hours of sleep to “achieve optimal health and learning.”

Photo by Robyn Beck/Getty Images.

In February, a bill was introduced in the California State Senate that would institute an 8:30 a.m. school start time statewide. The bill was shelved after falling short of the votes needed for passage, with opponents arguing that a “one-size-fits-all” approach would constrain the flexibility of local districts.

Supporters plan to revisit the legislation next year.

Despite the findings, Peltz insists that good sleep hygiene is still important for young people.

“At the end of the day, sleep is fundamental to our survival,” he said. “But if you have to cram for a test or have an important paper due, it’s one of the first things to go by the wayside, although that shouldn’t be.”

The next step is getting school administrators to weigh the evidence.

Convincing school districts across America to start later can’t be harder than convincing a teenager to shut off their phone, right?

Read more: http://www.upworthy.com/starting-school-too-early-could-be-dangerous-for-teens-even-if-they-do-everything-right

Share this with anyone who doubts vaccines. The U.K. just eliminated measles.

37 years ago, vaccines drove smallpox into extinction. Polio is about to be on death’s doorstep. Now the U.K. can say it has added one more name to its personal kill list — measles.

According to a new report from the World Health Organization, Denmark, Spain, and the United Kingdom in 2016 successfully eliminated the measles virus.

The secret behind this achievement is something simple: vaccines and herd immunity.

It’s important to note that, as the WHO defines it, “elimination” doesn’t mean “completely wiped out.” There were still about 1,600 cases in the United Kingdom last year.

Instead, the WHO reports, the United Kingdom has “interrupted endemic transmission.” That is to say, enough people are vaccinated that even if someone does catch the virus, it’s effectively impossible for the disease to spread. This phenomenon is commonly referred to as herd immunity, and it didn’t happen overnight.

This is the culmination of a long, steady vaccination campaign.

Vaccination campaigns can sometimes face challenges — inadequate supply, unequal access to health services, and hesitancy or misinformation.

Still, the four countries of the United Kingdom (England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland) have managed to reach a 95% measles, mumps, and rubella vaccination rate in children younger than 5 years old.

While measles might sound relatively innocuous, it’s a serious, potentially deadly disease, especially for children. Measles can cause permanent hearing loss, encephalitis, and death. It can also cause babies to be born prematurely if a pregnant woman contracts the disease. Eliminating it is a big achievement.

The United Kingdom is not the first country to achieve this goal. According to the WHO, 42 out of 53 European countries have achieved elimination.

This news shows that with dedicated, sustained efforts, we can chase some of our greatest specters back into the shadows.

There’s still plenty to be done. The U.K. will need to keep up its high vaccination rates and keep the herd immunity strong, or else the disease may gain a foothold once again. But with the vast majority of European countries having now eliminated this disease, measles might soon be marching down the same path as smallpox.

Read more: http://www.upworthy.com/share-this-with-anyone-who-doubts-vaccines-the-uk-just-eliminated-measles