The First Ever Online Safety Standards for Youth to be Established Under the Leadership of The Mental Health Coalition

An Unprecedented Collaboration of Global Experts in Mental Health and Technology Will Develop Safer Standards for Tech Platforms for Teens and Young Adults

NEW YORK, Sept. 14, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — The Mental Health Coalition (MHC), in partnership with the nation’s most prominent global authorities in mental health will develop the first-of-its-kind social media standards and rating for youth ages 13-24 and their caregivers. This effort will provide much needed support and resources while ensuring safer and more responsible online engagement (including media platforms, gaming, social media, search and others) for youth.

“Our aim is to leverage the considerable vision and insight of this impressive group of dedicated cross functional professionals to help reverse the alarming shift in behavior,” said Kenneth Cole, social activist and founder of The Mental Health Coalition.

Earlier this year, the Surgeon General called on policy makers to collaborate with many stakeholders including technology and NGOs to ensure the health and safety of the next generation.

“Today we are answering this call to build a safer future for today’s youth,” Cole added. “We believe their problem can be solved together and only together.”

The Coalition has engaged many of the world’s leading professionals connected to mental health, including the leadership and expertise of Dr. Dan Reidenberg, an internationally recognized expert in suicide prevention, mental health and online safety, to lead this initiative.

“As the CDC reports, this is a critical moment. We urgently need to address the mental health and well-being crises being imposed upon our youth,” said Dr. Reidenberg, who noted that other factors also affect the well-being of teens. “We hope that the S.O.S. initiative can also serve as a standard for other accessible technology initiatives.”

“Youth mental health is a priority for Google and we are pleased to support this cross-industry effort led by the Mental Health Coalition.” – Megan Jones Bell, Clinical Director Consumer and Mental Health, Google.

Key Data Points Related to Teens and Young Adults

  • 90% of teens 13-17 use or have used social media (AACAP)
  • Nearly 1 in 3 young teen girls admitted to seriously considering suicide in 2021 – up nearly 60% from a decade ago (SAMSHA)
  • 86% of young people said that social media negatively impacted their happiness, with 83% saying it contributed to their anxiety (Express VPN)
  • A majority of parents of adolescents say they are somewhat, very, or extremely worried that their child’s use of social media could lead to problems with anxiety or depression (53%), lower self-esteem (54%), being harassed or bullied by others (54%), feeling pressured to act a certain way (59%), and exposure to explicit content (71%), according to Gelles-Watnick, R. (2022)

The Initiative: S.O.S. – The Answer to A Safer Online Experience for Kids 
The Mental Health Coalition (MHC) is on a multi-year journey to positively transform youth mental health in the digital space. The standards will be developed, tested and reviewed by a steering committee and expert advisors across the mental health field with input from many diverse groups of users including youth, parents, people with lived experience and mental health organizations.

“We have had a rating system for films for over 50 years. Similar guidance for social media is long overdue,” said Tom Insel, MD, former Director of the National Institute of Mental Health.

S.O.S standards will provide guidance via an easy to understand and recognize rating system.  The system will provide the public with credible information on platform safety, align technology companies with standards that provide for a healthier, safer user experience and help teens and young adults develop and enhance digital literacy skills.

Learn more about S.O.S, including an initial list of top mental health experts who are involved and taking action towards a safer online experience for kids today and how you can get involved at

About The Mental Health Coalition
The Mental Health Coalition (, is a coalition of the Nation’s leading mental health organizations, brands, and individuals who have joined forces to end the debilitating stigma surrounding mental health and to change the way people talk about, and care for, mental illness. Our mission is to catalyze like-minded communities to work together to destigmatize mental health and empower access to vital resources and necessary support for all.

The Mental Health Coalition was formed with the understanding that the mental health crisis is fueled by a pervasive and devastating stigma, preventing millions of individuals from being able to seek the critical treatment they need. We will not relent until mental health is no longer associated with stigma, shame or judgment and all people feel empowered to openly discuss and address their individual mental health needs.

Contact: The Mental Health Coalition, (212) 713-6661.


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