Making Mental Health Top of Mind

by Sara Nilles with Robin Henderson

The #Work2BeWell campaign unites students from all backgrounds in raising awareness about emotional well-being

I was in the office working on our next leadership training event and up popped a text message from an adviser in rural Oregon—another suicide. This was the school’s third this year, and the year was only half over. The school looked to the activities director and student leaders to help bring the school and community back together. They were grieving, too. In the months to come, this would only be the beginning of more phone calls, emails, and requests for support in our schools. I thought to myself:I studied math education. How do I help? What do I say? What can we do as an organization to help?

It was time to reach out for support. When I did, I found a friend at iHeartRadio who was involved in the #BeWell campaign. This led me to Robin Henderson, chief executive of behavioral health for Providence Oregon and clinical liaison to Well Being Trust (WBT), a national foundation dedicated to supporting emotional well-being in our nation. WBT had recently launched a campaign called #BeWell to eliminate the stigma associated with mental health. They had been in the “awareness phase,” using radio and celebrity influencers to spread the message, and were now heading into their next phase of activation.

As advisers, we know that no one else knows how to activate students quite as well as student leaders! As we looked for help in supporting students with mental health issues, we partnered with #ICANHELP (see related article on page 16) because social media is central to mental health, and this organization rocks at activating youth. We also worked with YouthLine, an established teen crisis helpline and part of Lines For Life, the Oregon suicide hotline that specializes in teen-to-teen crisis support.