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27 progressive Twitter users worth following for a deeper look at a few familiar topics.

Looking for a more 'social' social network? Give these recommendations a try.

Twitter can be a huge waste of time — unless you're following the right people.

To mix things up, I try to follow new people at every available chance. Finding new voices and views to follow, however, can be challenging. After all, Twitter's "Who to Follow" section can feel a little stale at times. So if, like me, you're on the lookout for some fresh perspectives, here's a short list of some of the people who make my own Twitter feed fun and informative.

1. Sara Benincasa — @SaraJBenincasa

Author and comedian Sara Benincasa is your go-to Twitter account for lighthearted takes on current events, measured opinions on serious matters, and more than a few laughs. Her latest book, "DC Trip," came out late last year, and her next, "Real Artists Have Day Jobs," is due this April.


2. Jane Doe, MD — @DrJaneChi

Jane is a physician (who happens to also provide abortions), an intersectional feminist, and lover of small, furry animals. There's almost certainly something important happening in the world you don't know about that Jane is tweeting about right now.

3. Robin — @caulkthewagon

Robin is a Bostonian who spent much of last year organizing around the #NoBoston2024 cause, fighting the city's bid to host the 2024 Olympics. She tweets about labor, organizing, and a variety of progressive causes.

4. Melissa Gira Grant — @melissagira

Journalist Melissa Gira Grant is the author of "Playing the Whore: The Work of Sex Work." She writes on sexual politics, technology, and workers' rights.


5. Imani Gandy — @AngryBlackLady

Imani is the senior legal analyst over at RH Reality Check. Her tweets on race, gender, and pop culture are supplemented by some really great, insightful articles.

6. Andrea Grimes — @andreagrimes

Andrea is a digital editor at the Texas Observer. She's passionate about reproductive health, and she's absolutely hilarious on Twitter. In response to the "ice bucket challenge," Andrea launched the "taco or beer challenge," in which you eat a taco and/or drink a beer, and donate to help fund abortion. Because hey, why not, right?


7. Michelle Kinsey Bruns — @ClinicEscort

As her handle indicates, she's an escort for patients in and out of abortion clinics, helping to shield them from anti-choice protesters. Michelle's series of tweets about clinic violence using the #is100enough hashtag went viral late last year after the shooting at the Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood.


8. Katie Klabusich — @katie_speak

Katie is a writer and host of "The Katie Speak Show" on Netroots Radio. She's a fierce advocate for abortion rights and bodily autonomy and is just an all-around solid choice to follow on Twitter. Last year, she was featured in an Upworthy story about abortion stigma.

9. Chris Mosier — @TheChrisMosier

Chris is an athlete and the first transgender member of Team USA. He's the executive director of GO! Athletes, a nonprofit for current and former LGBTQ high school and college athletes.

10. Molly Knefel — @mollyknefel

Molly is a journalist, writer, and co-host of the "Radio Dispatch" podcast. She's also an after-school teacher for grades K-8. She's a great follow for anyone interested in hearing a fresh take on current events.

11. Jessica Luther — @scATX

Jessica is an Austin, Texas-based independent journalist and sportswriter. She's done some truly impressive work on the topic of sexual assault within college athletic programs.


12. Carlos Maza — @gaywonk

Carlos is a research fellow at Media Matters for America. Until recently, his work focused primarily on LGBT rights, but it has since expanded to include a wide range of progressive causes.


13. Jamie Kilstein — @jamiekilstein

Jamie is a musician and comedian. He's the co-author of "#Newsfail" and co-host of the "Citizen Radio" podcast. Last year, Jamie was featured in an Upworthy article about catcalls not being compliments.

14. Ijeoma Oluo — @IjeomaOluo

Ijeoma is a Seattle-based writer and editor-at-large at The Establishment, a multimedia company founded, funded, and run by women. She's a great follow for smart takes on the intersection of feminism, race, pop culture, and parenting.


15. Pasta — @pastachips

Pasta is an Edinburgh, Scotland-based sex worker who writes and blogs about politics, labor, police violence, stigma, and other issues.


16. Monica Roberts — @TransGriot

Monica is a Houston-based blogger and civil rights activist. She's won multiple awards for her blog TransGriot, and in 2013, she was named to the inaugural Trans 100 list.

17. Chris Geidner — @chrisgeidner

Chris is the legal editor over at BuzzFeed News. In the past, he's done some truly phenomenal writing on LGBTQ issues, but lately he's been churning out some truly informative posts about the death penalty and the Supreme Court's role in its future.

18. Cameron Russell — @CameronCRussell

Cameron is a model, writer, editor, and climate activist. In 2012, she gave a TED Talk about appearance and the privilege that comes along with winning a genetic lottery. In 2013, she founded Space Made, an artist collective based in Brooklyn. Her tweets tackle issues of gender, race, and climate.


19. Linda Sarsour — @lsarsour

Linda is a racial justice and civil rights activist and media commentator. She's a Palestinian-American and Muslim. Her informative tweets give a fresh look at what sadly remains a very relevant issue: Islamophobia around the world.

20. Zoé S. — @ztsamudzi

If you're interested in issues surrounding race and gender, then Zoé is a must-follow. She's blunt, unapologetic, and so frequently just spot-on in her observations.


21. Chase Strangio — @chasestrangio

Chase is a staff attorney at the ACLU, working with its LGBT & AIDS Project. He's a great follow for anyone interested in learning a bit about some of the struggles facing trans and gender-nonconforming people when it comes to the police.


22. Cyd Zeigler — @CydZeigler

Cyd is the co-founder of Outsports.com, a website dedicated to covering LGBT athletes. With some of the first athletes in major sports coming out as LGBT in recent years, Cyd's work has been essential reading as we watch these early pioneers make history.

23. Leah Torres, MD — @LeahNTorres

Leah is an OB-GYN who, yes, provides abortions. She's an advocate for her patients and is a proponent of comprehensive sex education.

24. Tina Vasquez — @TheTinaVasquez

Tina is an immigration reporting fellow at RH Reality Check. On Twitter, she shares her eye-opening opinions on race and gender and is most certainly worth a follow.

25. Ian Thompson — @IantDC

Ian is a legislative representative at the ACLU. He works on issues ranging from LGBT rights to sex education. Prior to working at the ACLU, he was an intern in Rep. Dennis Kucinich's D.C. office.

26. Dave Zirin — @EdgeofSports

Dave is the sports editor at The Nation. He hosts the "Edge of Sports Radio" podcast, and his work rides the line between sports and politics, giving him a unique perspective. He's the author of eight books.

27. Upworthy — @Upworthy

OK, OK, I work for Upworthy, so of course I'm going to recommend you follow us. But have you seen our live-tweets of award shows and debates? Or how about one of our UpChats? They're super fun and informative. And as a bonus, you get all our fun articles delivered right to your Twitter feed.

Courtesy of Elaine Ahn

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Teens of today live in a totally different world than the one their parents grew up in. Not only do young people have access to technologies that previous generations barely dreamed of, but they're also constantly bombarded with information from the news and media.

Today’s youth are also living through a pandemic that has created an extra layer of difficulty to an already challenging age—and it has taken a toll on their mental health.

According to Mental Health America, nearly 14% of youths ages 12 to 17 experienced a major depressive episode in the past year. In a September 2020 survey of high schoolers by Active Minds, nearly 75% of respondents reported an increase in stress, anxiety, sadness and isolation during the first six months of the pandemic. And in a Pearson and Connections Academy survey of US parents, 66% said their child felt anxious or depressed during the pandemic.

However, the pandemic has only exacerbated youth mental health issues that were already happening before COVID-19.

“Many people associate our current mental health crisis with the pandemic,” says Morgan Champion, the head of counseling services for Connections Academy Schools. “In fact, the youth mental health crisis was alarming and on the rise before the pandemic. Today, the alarm continues.”

Mental Health America reports that most people who take the organization’s online mental health screening test are under 18. According to the American Psychiatric Association, about 50% of cases of mental illness begin by age 14, and the tendency to develop depression and bipolar disorder nearly doubles from age 13 to age 18.

Such statistics demand attention and action, which is why experts say destigmatizing mental health and talking about it is so important.

“Today we see more people talking about mental health openly—in a way that is more akin to physical health,” says Champion. She adds that mental health support for young people is being more widely promoted, and kids and teens have greater access to resources, from their school counselors to support organizations.

Parents are encouraging this support too. More than two-thirds of American parents believe children should be introduced to wellness and mental health awareness in primary or middle school, according to a new Global Learner Survey from Pearson. Since early intervention is key to helping young people manage their mental health, these changes are positive developments.

In addition, more and more people in the public eye are sharing their personal mental health experiences as well, which can help inspire young people to open up and seek out the help they need.

“Many celebrities and influencers have come forward with their mental health stories, which can normalize the conversation, and is helpful for younger generations to understand that they are not alone,” says Champion.

That’s one reason Connections Academy is hosting a series of virtual Emotional Fitness talks with Olympic athletes who are alums of the virtual school during Mental Health Awareness Month. These talks are free, open to the public and include relatable topics such as success and failure, leadership, empowerment and authenticity. For instance, on May 18, Olympic women’s ice hockey player Lyndsey Fry will speak on finding your own style of confidence, and on May 25, Olympic figure skater Karen Chen will share advice for keeping calm under pressure.

Family support plays a huge role as well. While the pandemic has been challenging in and of itself, it has actually helped families identify mental health struggles as they’ve spent more time together.

“Parents gained greater insight into their child’s behavior and moods, how they interact with peers and teachers,” says Champion. “For many parents this was eye-opening and revealed the need to focus on mental health.”

It’s not always easy to tell if a teen is dealing with normal emotional ups and downs or if they need extra help, but there are some warning signs caregivers can watch for.

“Being attuned to your child’s mood, affect, school performance, and relationships with friends or significant others can help you gauge whether you are dealing with teenage normalcy or something bigger,” Champion says. Depending on a child’s age, parents should be looking for the following signs, which may be co-occurring:

  • Perpetual depressed mood
  • Rocky friend relationships
  • Spending a lot of time alone and refusing to participate in daily activities
  • Too much or not enough sleep
  • Not eating a regular diet
  • Intense fear or anxiety
  • Drug or alcohol use
  • Suicidal ideation (talking about being a burden or giving away possessions) or plans

“You know your child best. If you are unsure if your child is having a rough time or if there is something more serious going on, it is best to reach out to a counselor or doctor to be sure,” says Champion. “Always err on the side of caution.”

If it appears a student does need help, what next? Talking to a school counselor can be a good first step, since they are easily accessible and free to visit.

“Just getting students to talk about their struggles with a trusted adult is huge,” says Champion. “When I meet with students and/or their families, I work with them to help identify the issues they are facing. I listen and recommend next steps, such as referring families to mental health resources in their local areas.”

Just as parents would take their child to a doctor for a sprained ankle, they shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help if a child is struggling mentally or emotionally. Parents also need to realize that they may not be able to help them on their own, no matter how much love and support they have to offer.

“That is a hard concept to accept when parents can feel solely responsible for their child’s welfare and well-being,” says Champion. “The adage still stands—it takes a village to raise a child. Be sure you are surrounding yourself and your child with a great support system to help tackle life’s many challenges.”

That village can include everyone from close family to local community members to public figures. Helping young people learn to manage their mental health is a gift we can all contribute to, one that will serve them for a lifetime.

Join athletes, Connections Academy and Upworthy for candid discussions on mental health during Mental Health Awareness Month. Learn more and find resources here.

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