Last night, tens of millions of Americans watched Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump spar on the economy, race, and national security in the first general election debate. This morning, some are planning to vote a different way than they were before.

Photo by Steve Pope/Getty Images.

After the cameras were off, we asked our followers on social media if seeing the two major party nominees go toe-to-toe for the first time persuaded them to change their minds — from Clinton to Trump, Trump to Clinton, third-party to either candidate, either candidate to third-party, or simply from not voting to voting.


For many who spoke to us, the candidates' temperament, judgment, and tone were key factors in their decision to switch.

Here's what they said:

Jessica Morello, New Jersey, general manager, retail pharmacy chain

Photo by Jessica Morello/Facebook, used with permission.

Was: Not going to vote

Now: Clinton

Why she wasn't going to vote: "In past years I always felt like there was one candidate that most reflected my beliefs and needs as a citizen. And I felt that they had reasonable plans and were believable. This year, it's almost embarrassing that these are our choices. I think it's a direct reflection of the result of our declining education system, that these were the two chosen."

What watching the debate was like: "I was very unsettled, and had trouble sleeping. It scared me that Trump could act like that, in such a high esteemed forum, and that so much of the country is still going to vote for him...

We need someone who can build and foster meaningful relationships with other governments. Someone who is willing to make the changes necessary to elevate our country back to where it once was. Trump can't even behave himself in a respectful manner in a controlled public forum."

What she thought of Clinton's performance: "I give her a lot of credit for keeping her cool as long as she did. Lester Holt was doing a pitiful job as moderator. She responded to the questions with facts, plans, specifics. Some of her plans are idealistic, and may not be reasonable, but she answered the questions."

The moment she changed her mind: "When Trump was talking about how he wanted to institute 'stop & frisk' in Chicago and Lester Holt interrupted him telling him that it was ruled unconstitutional. Trump said 'No, you're wrong' and went into a crazy rant."

Could she change her mind again? "I'm going to continue to watch the debates, but I can't imagine anything will happen that will change my vote. Even if my vote does nothing but cancels out a vote for Trump. That's good enough for me."

Shane Foster, California, video producer

Photo by Shane Foster/Twitter, used with permission.

Was: Clinton

Now: Trump

Why he changed his mind: "Mostly Clinton [came] off as if she's better. She was condescending. Yes, Trump was too, but she's had influence in office."

Why Clinton's experience worked against her: "I don't see much improvement in this country. At least Trump has a completely different approach ... why help a country with money slowly owning us while we give them money? If they can pay, why not charge?"

What matters most about the candidates: "Hillary might be calm, she might have demeanor, but I don't think she can get it done. Trump's not much better, but at least he's not doing what everyone else is doing that has led this country down the tube."

William Clark, Wisconsin, driver

Photo by William Clark, used with permission.

Was: Johnson

Now: Clinton

How he saw the debate: "All I heard was rhetoric from the Donald. He also treated the debate and Hillary with disrespect. He is hiding something in his taxes, which I don't like. All in all, he was not presidential at all."

His bottom line: "Donald Trump has anger issues, is easily disturbed, and cannot even keep composure for two hours. Also, Hillary did a great job."

Why he's no longer voting third party: "The race is too tight and Hillary adopted many of Bernie's positions."

Tyler Frederick, Kentucky, student

Photo by Tyler Frederick, used with permission.

Was: Johnson

Now: Clinton

Why he registered as a Democrat earlier this year: "I voted for Bernie Sanders in the primary. It's not that I agreed with everything he said but I loved that he was an outsider and was challenging the status quo, both inside the Democrat party and across the political spectrum to begin with. I was not a fan of Secretary Clinton but she won the democratic primary relatively fair and square and I accepted that."

What was important to him before the debate: "I started to hear more and more about Gary Johnson of the Libertarian party. And though I didn't agree with much of his economic policy, I had decided that my vote would be better off supporting a third party candidate. Kentucky isn't a battleground state and isn't even leaning red; it's solid red and there's no doubt in my mind that Donald Trump will win our electoral votes."

What he saw last night: "She came prepared and brought facts to the table whereas he had done more of his classical heat responses with not a lot of substance, just emotion; she had so many zingers and one liners that killed. I was comparing it to a boxing match the entire night and at first they danced around each other and check each other, their opponent, out but once the match really started Trump would go for a punch and Hillary would nail one right in the sweet spot. It became so obvious she knew she was beating him by her big smile toward the end. I liked seeing her be so comfortable, so poised."

What he thinks now: "I'm not entirely convinced just yet, for I still think my single vote for Hillary in a red state will do next to nothing, but I will say this: She demonstrated to me that she is the most qualified individual in this presidential race — Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, Green, or Independent."

Emily Hatton, Kentucky, stay-at-home mom

Photo by Emily Hatton.

Was: Not going to vote.

Now: Clinton

How she voted in the past: "I have voted in past elections. My first election was for Bush's second term and I voted for Bush (my family in NJ is a very Republican cop family). The next election I was very enthusiastic about Obama and voted for him. The last election I did not vote. I was let down by Obama and it was some time during his first term that I decided voting is pointless."

Why she stopped voting: "I wasn't going to vote because truthfully, I don't believe it matters towards the outcome of the presidency. I believe voting is something pushed heavily on society to make us feel like we have a say and make most people feel comfortable enough about their say in government that they don't bother doing any other activism that might directly allow people to actually effect real change."

What she thought after watching Trump: "He couldn't stay on topic. He rambled a lot about irrelevant things. He could not just make a point and then stop talking. He's not persuasive. He's not coherent. He's unfit to lead because he can't communicate effectively at all."

How she made her choice: "Hillary does seem corrupt, but she doesn't seem any more corrupt than any other politician. I would rather have someone who conducts themselves professionally, can communicate effectively, has the middle class interest at heart (or so she claims), and has experience but might be doing things with her own interests truly at heart.

I wish a candidate like Trump would be an option, but who clearly cares about making America great again for the people, and not for themselves. Someone who isn't clearly racist and sexist."

How she feels about voting, after watching: "I was so compelled I even registered to vote online halfway through the debate."

If what you saw in the debate impressed you, disgusted you, or even made you feel somewhere in-between, you can find out how to register right here — you've only got two weeks left in many states.
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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