Date of Award

Spring 2024

Document Type



School of Unrestricted Education

Primary Advisor

Dr. Grace Veach


In the summer of 2023, CNN reported on a 14-year old girl who claimed to have several mental health issues. These included ADHD, depression, autism, and various phobias. After a specialist examined her, however, she was officially diagnosed not with her extensive list of illnesses but with severe anxiety. How did this 14-year old girl become so convinced that she suffered from all of these problems? Social media. Sadly, this girl is not the only victim of social media self-diagnosis. According to the CNN report, “A growing number of teens are turning to social platforms such as Instagram and TikTok for guidance, resources and support for their mental health, and to find conditions they think match their own” (Kelly). The fact that adolescents are diagnosing themselves with mental and emotional problems is extremely concerning. Instead, they must be taught discernment in order to deal productively with their emotions. Adolescents must be taught emotional intelligence. Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary defines emotional intelligence as “the ability to recognize, understand, and deal skillfully with one's own emotions and the emotions of others.” In recent years, educators have begun to teach emotional intelligence under the curriculum title ‘social and emotional learning,’ or SEL. However, these actions have triggered fierce backlash from conservatives. The thesis paper discusses why emotional intelligence is important and the ways that it can be nurtured in adolescents. Specifically, the paper addresses mental methods, which encompass various therapies and counseling; physical methods, such as diet, exercise, and sleep; and “selfless” methods, which focus on faith, gratitude, and volunteering. Additionally, the thesis paper investigates the current “emotional intelligence” curriculum taught by public schools and addresses the concerns it raises from conservatives.