In the second presidential debate — held less than 48 hours after the release of a bombshell tape where Donald Trump describes sexually assaulting women as well as the release of a new cache of Clinton campaign emails by Wikileaks — the candidates outlined two very different visions of a future America.

Photo by Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images

Trump defended his taped remarks from 2005 as "locker room talk," while calling on Muslim Americans to report suspected terrorists in their communities and vowing to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate Clinton's handling of her state department email and throw her in jail. Clinton promised to expand Obamacare to make health care more widely accessible and affordable and establish a no-fly zone in Syria, while deflecting questions about taking different positions in public and private by citing Abraham Lincoln.  


Two polls taken immediately post-debate showed a Clinton victory, while a focus group panel gave the edge to Trump.

We asked Upworthy's social media followers if last night's debate changed their mind. Most said it didn't. Some were convinced to pull the lever for a different candidate — and for several, it was not one of the two on the debate stage.

Here's what they said — who they were voting for, who they're voting for now, and why.

Interviews have been edited and condensed for clarity.

Tara Donna, tax office manager, Arizona

Was voting for: Jill Stein

Now voting for: Hillary Clinton

Jill Stein photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images; Hillary Clinton photo by Rick Wilking/AFP/Getty Images.

Why she was holding out for a third party: "I was a die hard Bernie supporter in the 'Never Hillary' group. I was leaning towards Jill Stein until her stunt at the DAPL [Dakota Access Pipeline]. I love that Jill actually wooed the Bernie folks. I feel like Hillary expects us to fall in line because Bernie has asked us to and that upsets me. For the record I'm against the DAPL, but you can't graffiti property. As a presidential candidate there should be a modicum of decency and decorum."

What she thought of Trump's debate performance: "I thought Trump was a disaster. He looked angry and hurt. His response to the leaked tape said it all. The official apology he made, which was clearly written by somebody else, was trampled on. He reverted to 'locker room banter,' which is talking about sexual assault."

How Clinton impressed, and didn't impress, her: "Hillary was poised, but angry at times. I feel she needs to answer for her treatment of Bill's women. Bill's behavior shouldn't be counted against her, but she destroyed those women and needs to answer for it."

What she plans to do now: "I'm voting for Hillary after last night. I'm not happy about it. I'd love to follow Iceland's footsteps, kick out the government and rewrite the Constitution."

Kaden Meeks, college student, West Virginia

Was voting for: Didn't plan to vote

Now voting for: Donald Trump

Photos by Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Images.

Who he backed initially: "Trump — mostly because I consider myself a Republican and I agree with a lot of his ideas, even some of the more radical ones. I liked his immigration ideas, I liked that he was straightforward and I liked that he had made questionable decisions in his life to get where he is now. I always have looked at the presidential position as a decision-making job, and I think that Trump would be bold enough to make controversial decisions rather than putting them off as the issues get worse."

How Trump temporarily lost his vote: "I had problems [with] the comments about his daughter. I don't know how any man could agree that his daughter is a 'piece of ass' or refer to her body shape as beautiful or give other men information on his daughter's breasts. I think that just shows how truly narcissistic and gross he really is. Any human with kids generally loves, protects them and is proud of their offspring, but Donald Trump seems to use his daughter as a credential. Her physical appearance is used as a weapon, and to me, that is just too far."

How the debate, and its aftermath, convinced him to come back around: "I actually watched a video of him apologizing for what he had said, and then I saw another video of a room full of independent voters, and the vast majority said that Trump had gained their vote. This was shocking to me considering it hadn't happened so far, and even CNN said he had 'exceeded expectations,' so I just knew he was starting to get a feel for what he was doing and maturing as a politician."

"Like I said, I always have liked his ideas, his demeanor is the issue, and through watching those things, I realize he was capable of having a suitable demeanor."

Patricia Billingsley, retired state employee, Oklahoma

Was voting for: Undecided

Now voting for: Gary Johnson

Donald Trump photo by Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images; Gary Johnson photo by Molly Riley/AFP/Getty Images.

Her feelings about Clinton, in four words: "Most knowledgeable, least ethical."

Her feelings about Trump, in three words: "Narcissistic, erratic, lazy."

What she thought of Trump last night: "Aggressive. Defends own sleaze by pointing out others' bad behavior."

What she thought of Clinton last night: "Ignores questions/statements she does not want to hear, repeats talking points."

What she'd like to see in the third debate: "Wish Johnson [was] in debates to compare in person, not just on what I read and hear."

Jessica Medina, web designer, Florida

Was voting for: Hillary Clinton

Now voting for: Undecided

Hillary Clinton photo by Tasos Katopodis/AFP/Getty Images; Gary Johnson photo by Bill McCay/SiriusXM.

How she planned to vote before last night: "I've never liked either choice, but Clinton is certainly the lesser of two evils in my eyes. After the last debate I was left thinking 'oh okay, I can do this...' This one kind of turned it back and made me feel uneasy again."

Why she felt this debate was different: "The moderators certainly appeared biased in my opinion. It's no secret that Anderson Cooper hates Trump's guts, but I felt like they were certainly professional. And I agreed with everything they called him out on — I truly appreciated the fact that they didn't let him get way with his diversion tactics.  But it set up Hillary for an advantage, which automatically had me raising an eyebrow."

What about Clinton's performance turned her off: "She had so much prepared for this debate, and that preparedness left me feeling a disconnect. I'm sure she has a sincerity about her in person — everyone says that her strength is listening and making people feel heard — but in this particular format, I don't think it translated well across the TV to the viewers at home."

How she plans to vote now: "It will depend on how she performs in the next debate, and I'll be doing a lot more research to see if a vote for Johnson is really just throwing a vote away (or, God forbid, dividing the vote and letting Trump take it). For Trump, nothing could ever convince me to vote for him."

How Clinton could win her back: "I would like to see more authenticity. We know she's smarter and more experienced than Trump. We know she's prepared to counter his arguments. So I would like to see her just have a conversation instead of spewing rhetoric that she has decided upon beforehand. I would like to be able to trust her."

Denise Smith, former museum programs manager, Virginia

Was voting for: Write-in vote

Now voting for: Hillary Clinton

Bernie Sanders photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images; Hillary Clinton photo by Tasos Katopodis/AFP/Getty Images.

How she's voted in the past: "My first vote was for Jimmy Carter. But I also voted for Ronald Reagan and Daddy Bush … once. I was a Reagan Democrat, I voted for him the first time because he spoke of a flat tax to cover everyone. We went bankrupt during his presidency, and I would not piss on him if he was on fire after that! Daddy Bush spoke about fair trade and jobs on a global market and I voted for that. Got fooled again."

"I actually voted for Ross Perot against Bill Clinton — get this — because my husband fussed at me and said he didn’t want my vote canceling his out. I was stupid in love and never did it again."

Why she was uncommitted: "I was a Bernie supporter to begin with. I was truly disgusted by what happened that knocked him out of the race. I think he had a better chance than Hillary at winning this election, because after 30 years of dirt about her, the rumors, [and] the scandals, I was skeptical of her in office. Plus, though he endorses her now, Bernie ran a good campaign against her."

What convinced her to come off the fence: "I was seriously considering just throwing my vote away. I can’t endorse Johnson or Stein after looking at their platforms. I was thinking of writing in Bernie’s name or, hell, even Lindsey Graham for president but after this week’s tape on his 'locker room' talk and then Hillary Clinton's performance tonight, I’m solidly for Clinton."

Why she could never, ever vote for Trump: "Trump scares me — the thought of him as president. After tonight I know I can’t throw my vote away. Hillary tonight showed me a much better candidate for president. Trump needs a civics lesson on how Congress works. [He] blamed her too much for things no one person can control and if he thinks senators and presidents have that much power, he’s nuts. He’s going to prosecute her above our judicial system? That’s dictator talk."

Deadlines to register to vote in most states are closing fast! Many have already passed, some are coming up in the next few days. If you still haven't put your name on the rolls, this tool can help you get there. And if you have registered, here's how you can find your polling place.  

Connections Academy

Wylee Mitchell is a senior at Nevada Connections Academy who started a t-shirt company to raise awareness for mental health.

True

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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