Girl Scouts Promote Mental Health
Two thumbs up for the Girl Scouts for fostering the emotional wellbeing of young women. Girls can earn a variety of badges, patches, and charms for engaging in activities that encourage knowledge, skill development, self-exploration, and healthy choices, all of which can positively impact emotional health. In the fall of 2011, they introduced the Science of Happiness badge. To earn this badge, girls develop and enact a plan to increase their happiness over the course of a month, using scientifically proven techniques. The badge is designed to be earned at the Cadette level, by 11 to 14 year old girls. This may be the perfect time for girls to learn these skills. By 11, most girls have the cognitive capacity to understand the scientific method, and learning how they can influence their own happiness by 14 may help reduce girls' development of depression, the incidence of which increases dramatically in adolescence.
The criteria for this badge were developed with the help of Dr. Martin Seligman of the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Seligman is a prominent psychologist and a leader in the field of positive psychology. His original work focused on the impact of learned helplessness on depression. In his original studies, he found that some of his subjects (dogs) did not learn to be helpless. These results led him to explore the science of optimism and happiness. To learn more about the science of happiness and complete questionnaires to evaluate your own wellbeing, check out the Authentic Happiness and Pursuit of Happiness websites.