Teens Are Not Therapist | Kelsey Peyton


The Wayland Public School (WPS) system needs to update their mental health curriculum to better form open dialogue about depression with high school students.

Public high schools have had a history of skimming the surface of mental health in their curriculum. Without proper education on mental health and how it affects people as well as advice on how to navigate it, high school students are left with the feeling of being obligated to be their friends’ therapists because they feel like there is no other option. There are many issues with high school students trying to be each other’s therapists—feeling like a life is on their hands and they are the only one to save them, possibly giving the wrong advice and making the other teen worse, and making their own mental health decline are just a few examples. This project’s goal is to advocate for the curriculum in public schools to include a new mental health program that covers below the surface in order to help these teens better help themselves and others.

The final deliverables for Teens Are Not Therapists include a motion graphic, a zine-poster hybrid, and an Instagram page. The motion graphic functions as an introduction to my capstone, setting the tone of my project for the audience. The zine-poster hybrid is a 6 page zine made on an 11 x 17 Tabloid paper, and can be unfolded to reveal a poster on the other side. It’s main purpose is to be given to the school board in order to shed light on this issue and demand change. The Instagram page is used to host the anonymous mental health stories of WPS students/alumni, as well as shareable posts to educate others and spread awareness.

I used three main research lenses when developing my capstone. Mental health, adolescent development, and storytelling marketing.  My research on adolescent development helped me determine what this age group is capable of understanding. I used my research on mental health to look statistically at what’s going on across the country and see what the mental health statistics for this age group were. I also sent out a survey to students/alumni of WPS asking them to tell their stories of how the lack of mental health education affected them.

Lastly, I used the marketing lens to help guide me on how to display this information in a way that best convinces my audience the importance of this issue, and motivate them to demand public high schools to expand their curriculum.