Caregivers in Spokane want to hear from youth about a new website and curriculum – Work2BeWell.org – designed to give teens tools in battling anxiety, depression and other mental health issues.
Work2BeWell.org is a digital wellness program and anti-stigma campaign launched in response to the significant impact COVID-19 has had on the mental well-being of Pacific Northwest residents. This week, Lutheran Community Services Northwest launched a Spokane-area youth advisory board with seven teen members, and room for a few more, to give feedback about the website and promote the resources at area schools.
The community services youth panel work, collaborating with Communities in Schools, is funded through a Providence Health community benefit grant. Providence and the Well Being Trust also developed the Work2BeWell website recently as a response to community-requested resources after a rise in teen suicides in the Pacific Northwest, the website’s information says.
“We have seven youth who are confirmed to attend, and then our role with this advisory board is to move through the Work2BeWell.org curriculum,” said Tiffany Kelly, clinical director at Lutheran Community Services in Spokane.
“The website is an initiative to reduce mental health stigma for youth and impact rates of youth suicides by having a resource that can be peer-led and peer-engaging. They have different mental health topics, crisis services, events, videos and different interactive pieces. Our youth advisory board is going to run through those sections, look at the materials, give feedback on how engaging they think they would be for youth or things that could be changed.”
“They’re going to be the youth leaders to promote the website back to schools they attend and give those resources to teens, parents and teachers to spread the message around the website as a tool for youth when maybe they aren’t connected to counseling services yet or have been but want ongoing coping and self-care tools.”
The youth advisory board is open to teens ages 13 to 18 in school. The first virtual meeting was scheduled for Wednesday in a yearlong program with meetings held about once a month. The youths involved don’t have to have a direct connection to Lutheran Community Services, and Kelly said leaders plan for a maximum of 10 youth on the board at a given time.
“They also don’t have to stay connected to the youth advisory board for a full year, so we probably would have fluidity of members,” she said. “So, if there are other people interested, we’d be open to having them connect with myself and then two of our mental health clinicians who work with youth and are hosting and facilitating the board. It’s voluntary, and we hope they stay with us. We’ll host one advisory meeting per month April through next March.”
The group will go through the Work2BeWell website section by section. The plan also is to create promotional items so participants can bring them back to schools or to give to other peers. Feedback from teens on how engaging is the site is, and how helpful, eventually will be shared with Providence, Kelly said.
Lutheran Community Services Northwest is a mental health agency. Kelly said the agency specializes in outpatient services for teens who have experienced trauma, as well as anxiety, depression and behavior issues along with positive parenting work. It has clinicians who works in homes and schools.
Kelly said Work2BeWell opens up more accessibility, and it has social media links that can be accessed on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, as well as the website itself. “It can mean having an interactive and engaging platform they can reach out to if they can’t talk to a parent or another trusted adult.”
“That gives them the experience that they are not the only one and that there are tools and hope to improve whatever symptoms they may be experiencing,” she said. “Then they can maybe be a facilitator of this gave me a little bit of benefit, and maybe I’m ready to engage in counseling if they’ve never been in counseling before.”
She agreed that in this past year, the agency has seen an influx of youth seeking mental health services, and other teens who didn’t seek help during lockdowns are now having increased symptoms.
Some of the schools with youth advisers so far are in Spokane Public Schools, Mead and Cheney. For more information, call Lutheran Community Services Northwest at (509) 747-8224 or email Kelly at firstname.lastname@example.org. General information is at the website Work2BeWell.