Teens shine spotlight on mental health awareness
Dominic and three other Work2BeWell National Student Advisory Council members after speaking at a conference
As a teenager struggling with mental health challenges, Dominic faced more than just his medical condition. Like others with similar struggles, he had to contend with societal perceptions that those who seek help are weak.
“The stigma surrounding mental health, which is born from a lack of awareness, works to isolate those who are struggling, cutting them off from progress and support with terrifying efficiency,” says Dominic, 18, of Burbank, Calif.
He describes his initial efforts as a war against himself.
“My mind and my body have seriously impacted my relationships, my health and my well-being,” he says. “Most importantly, the challenges I’ve overcome have empowered me to make a lifetime commitment to service and to pursue a career where I can support those struggling with their mental health.”
“Providence and Work2BeWell have created an avenue by which teens can speak about their own experience, empower each other, and take on the youth mental health crisis and the stigma that enables it.”
- Dominic, National Student Advisory Council, Work2BeWell
Helping teens become advocates
After seeking help and learning to manage his mental health, Dominic wanted to help other teens do the same. He learned about Work2BeWell, a Providence initiative through which teens themselves advocate for adolescent mental health services, and he jumped at the chance to get involved in 2020.
“I joined the National Student Advisory Council of Work2BeWell because I wanted to be there for those who had struggled with their mental health and use my experience to help guide others through their journey with mental health,” he explains. “I wanted to build bridges for people like me who felt isolated and alone in their struggles and I wanted to help foster an atmosphere of awareness and solidarity in the communities I had the honor to work with.”
Providence developed Work2BeWell in 2018 in response to a rise in teen suicides in several western regions served by its family of organizations. The program then recruited teens from across the country for the student council to serve as advocates.
Creating positive change is possible
The council has brought forth significant changes through its projects, including mental health legislation in Oregon that legally allows students to take mental health days off from school.
Dominic is proud of the progress made.
Personally, he feels emboldened to speak up for what he believes in, and he’s developed lifelong relationships during his time with the program. He sums it up well: “Providence and Work2BeWell have created an avenue by which teens can speak about their own experience, empower each other, and take on the youth mental health crisis and the stigma that enables it.”
Scott Acord of Providence’s Hear Me Now talks with Regina Fernandez to learn more about the beginnings of Work2BeWell and the program’s focus.