A monumental new initiative by The Mental Health Coalition

Safe Online Standards for Kids’ Mental Health


The Mental Health Coalition (MHC) is embarking on a multi-year journey to transform youth mental health in the digital space via the Safe Online Standards for Kids’ Mental Health (S.O.S) initiative by developing credible, data-driven standards for kids’ mental health on technology platforms.


MHC’s Ambitious Timeline for S.O.S.

Phase I

Build Foundation

Define and develop initial set of standards

Outcome: An initial set of S.O.S. standards, endorsed by experts and informed by users

Phase II

Test & Implement

Pilot Standards and Implement Industry-Endorsed Standards at Scale

Outcomes: Tested and implementable S.O.S. standards adopted by many social media companies; Publicly accessible ratings for social media platforms used by parents, kids, and educators

Phase III+

Sustain & Expand

Operate and Maintain Standards and Expand

Outcome: Sustainable implementation of the ratings and supporting standards with widespread adoption and measurable impact on kids’ mental health


Create the first-ever standards and ratings for kids’ mental health and social media to catalyze healthful engagement for kids online

Leaders driving the standards development workstream:

Expert Panel

Creates standards around mental health and social media

David Bickham, Ph.D.

Research scientist at Boston Children’s Hospital’s Digital Wellness Lab

Richard Cullata, M. ID.

CEO of International Society for Technology & Education, author of Digital for Good

Darja Djordjevic, M.D, Ph.D.

Academic/Research ChiefFellow, Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, NUMC, NY

Rita Fabi

Trust and Safety Consultant, Tech Coalition

Michael Johnson, M.A., CAP

Managing Director of Beh. Health at CARF

Pippa Kennard

Program Manager, Stanford Mental Health Tech + Innovation Hub, Stanford University, School of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences

Matt Nock, Ph.D.

Psychologist, Dir of the Laboratory for Clinical and Developmental Research at Harvard University

Denny Morrison, Ph.D.

Fmr Chief Clinical Officer of Netsmart, expert in intersection of clinical work in behavioral health and technology

Jacqi Nessi, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Human Behavior at Brown University

Mitch Prinstein, Ph.D.

Chief Science Officer American Psychological Association (APA)

Jo Robinson, Ph.D.

Professor Orygen Australia, Head of Suicide Research

Steven Schueller, Ph.D

Associate Professor of Psychological Science and Informatics at the University of California, Irvine

David Sullivan

Founder and Executive Director of the Digital Trust & Safety Partnership

Nina Vasan, M.D.

Psychiatrist, Professor of Psychiatry at Stanford, Founder and Executive Director of Brainstorm

Steering Committee

Provides oversight, advice, guidance and feedback on standards development and standards

Carolyn Bunting

CEO of Internet Matters

Kana Enomoto

Director of Brain Health, McKinsey Institute, Fmr Asst Sect. for Mental Health and Substance Use SAMHSA

Tom Insel, M.D.

Former director of NIMH

Harold Koplewicz, M.D.

Founding President and Medical Director of the Child Mind Institute, Senior child and adolescent psychiatrist

Larry Magid

CEO of ConnectSafely

Jennifer Mineer

Executive Director of My Digtal TAT2

Linda Papadapolous, BPS

Psychologist, author, psychodermatologist, and podcaster/influencers

Matt Pitman, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor, School of Advertising and Public Relations, University of Tennessee

Press Coverage of S.O.S.

Press Release Announcement

Making Headlines

Good Morning America

MHC Founder Kenneth Cole sat down with Good Morning America to discuss the Coalition’s new S.O.S. initiative.




Senior Reporter Rebecca Ruiz covered the news for Mashable: “New S.O.S. initiative online rating system targets teen safety.”


Why Now?

While being online has plenty of benefits, any technology used by our kids with such potency and frequency during such an influential time in their development demands our serious attention.

To date, there are no independent standards to guide young people’s online and social media experiences that put their health and well-being first. We have left parents and teens to fend for themselves when it comes to a highly influential but largely unregulated and fully ubiquitous industry.

While there may be many things that impact the emotional, social, and intellectual well-being of teens, the ever-worsening mental health outcomes for teens demand that we put in place standards that support their mental health for an industry that plays such an outsized role in their lives.

The US Surgeon General has issued a public advisory highlighting this critical moment in time. If we don’t act now, history will judge us accordingly. We must create a responsible framework that defines and distinguishes harmful from healthful social media experiences; standards that can be accessed by all stakeholders, starting with youth.


Interested in learning more about this important work?

For inquiries about the S.O.S. goal, process, or committee, contact Dr. Dan Reidenberg or Linda Lurie Mars, Project Manager.

For press inquiries, contact Amanda Roston.


If you or a friend need urgent assistance, call 911 immediately, or take your friend directly to the emergency room. If you feel it’s safe, stay with your friend, or find someone to stay with them until help arrives.

Call 911


You are never alone. Help is always available. For immediate support 24/7, reach out to the Crisis Text Line by texting COALITION to 741741, or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988. It’s free and it’s highly confidential, unless it’s essential to contact emergency services to keep you or your friend safe.


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