Teens make a difference with mental health through Work2BeWell


In this article: 

  • At Providence, we recognize that mental health is a critical component of holistic healthcare.

  • Our Work2BeWell program responds to urgent mental health needs of today’s teens by equipping educators and students with important resources and tools.

  • Work2BeWell’s National Student Advisory Council (NSAC) is partnering with several groups to make mental health a top priority in their communities.

At Providence, we recognize that mental health is a critical component of holistic care. And throughout the pandemic, mental health has become even more challenging – especially for young adults and teens.

Our Work2BeWell program is designed to respond to the urgent mental health needs of today’s teens by equipping educators and students with the tools they need for emotional wellness and resiliency. Work2BeWell empowers teens through access, education, and activation. The goal is to increase awareness about mental health, promote compassion and remove barriers to care.

Using the National Student Advisory Council (NSAC) model, Work2BeWell selects student representatives from across the country to help normalize conversations about mental health and behavioral health. Those who join NSAC receive training on mental health first aid, leadership, project development, and team building. Partnering with Work2BeWell staff mentors, students create projects that help break the stigma around mental health, and make mental health a top priority at their schools and in their communities.

A few recent key projects and partnerships are helping Work2BeWell achieve its goals.

OASC student forum: A space to talk about racism at school

The Work2BeWell NSAC often partners with other organizations, including the Oregon Association of Student Councils (OASC). Since 1949, OASC has helped thousands of students learn to lead through service, involvement, and action. Recently, OASC and NSAC leaders worked together to host a student forum in response to recent events related to race at their schools.

Students have reported an increase in hate speech, discriminatory social media posts, and exclusion happening in a variety of Oregon communities and high schools which sparked the need for teens to come together and discuss. NSAC and OASC students created a space for students to talk, react, and determine how to move forward together. Erin Jones – a public speaker who specializes in diversity, equity, and inclusion in educational spaces – helped facilitate the forum, leading students through a deeply thoughtful conversation.

“This forum was one of my favorite Work2BeWell events,” says Lianna, a current NSAC member. “It truly shows what we are about in addition to being mental health advocates.”

Students at the forum identified these needs and next steps:

  • Having adult leaders from OASC and Work2BeWell connect students to administrators, urging school leaders to take cases of bias seriously and to take action
  • Educating students about racism, sexism, and homophobia
  • Developing an ongoing meeting space and presence on social media for peers across states to support each other’s work and share ideas

Work2BeWell and OASC intend to work with their student leaders to turn these ideas into realities.

Santa Ana Unified School District plans for new mental health curriculum

Another Work2BeWell partnership involves the Santa Ana Unified School District (SAUSD) in California. Starting in December, Work2BeWell will help provide support and access to clinically vetted mental health curriculum modules in SAUSD schools.

“We’re also helping connect SAUSD students to our NSAC students,” says Jawanza Hadley, director of Work2BeWell. “They’ll assist with social media and wellness campaigns, new Work2BeWell school clubs, and participation in Work2BeWell’s annual Mental Health Summit.”

For the current school year, which is now in person, SAUSD has committed to providing mental health support and services to their community. This includes planning for additional support needs at each school site.

Work2BeWell has resources to help with mental wellness for teens. Their online curriculum, developed in part by teens, includes a range of topics – from stress and anxiety to grief and structural racism. They offer kits that educators and student leaders can use to promote mental wellness in their specific communities. Kits include presentations, promotion assets, worksheets, activities, facilitator notes, and more.

“The partnership with SAUSD is in line with Work2BeWell’s goal of increasing access to mental health resources for teens, parents, and educators,” says Hadley. “And providing mental health awareness to the community at large.”

Working with Miss Tri-Cities Outstanding Teen to end mental health stigma

Work2BeWell also raises awareness and reduces stigma around mental health by working with influencers outside of the mental health field. Recently, Work2BeWell teamed up with Kaiya Bates, Miss Tri-Cities Outstanding Teen 2022.

Miss Tri-Cities is a scholarship program that chooses an outstanding teen from the Tri-Cities region (which includes the cities of Kennewick, Pasco, and Richland in Washington) to represent the area at the Miss Washington Outstanding Teen Competition. The winner receives a scholarship and completes a year of service.

Each Miss Tri-Cities has a social impact statement.

“As Miss Tri-Cities Outstanding Teen, Kaiya wants to normalize and expand the conversation about mental health,” says Karen Hayes, Community Health Investment Manager at Providence. “She also wants to make a far-reaching impact that gives students ways to manage their emotions using self-regulation tools and strategies.”

Based on her own experiences with selective mutism, Kaiya knows that it’s easy to get overwhelmed and stressed in the classroom. Her goal is to make CALM-ing (choices, attitude, learn, meditate) kits. Each kit has fidget tools that help kids find healthy coping strategies – to provide an outlet when they need it.

Kaiya also wants to remove the stigma around mental health by talking about it more.

“Through the partnership between Work2BeWell and Kaiya, we hope to both increase awareness of Work2BeWell resources available for teens, educators, and families in Southeastern Washington and expand the reach of Kaiya’s mental health platform,” says Hayes.

Increasing impact for mental health

As Work2BeWell continues to partner with other organizations and leaders, they move closer toward the goal of raising awareness about mental health and responding to critical needs. Work2BeWell is also one of many ways Providence helps the most vulnerable in our communities. By normalizing the conversations around mental health and fostering community relationships, Work2BeWell creates healthcare for a better world.

To learn more about Work2BeWell or to access any resources, visit the Work2BeWell website or follow Work2BeWell on social media (FacebookTwitterInstagram, and LinkedIn).


Visit our Annual Report to our Communities page

To learn more about what we’re doing to help our caregivers and other community partners, check out our Annual Report to our Communities.

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