At We Fight, we’re always aiming to put the Spotlight on resources that our members have found useful. With peer groups, workshops for identifying the signs of mental health struggle in teens, and more, Stay Well from the State of Michigan has certainly helped many We Fight members. Erin Wallace, Stay Well’s Project Manager, talked with us about the program’s roots and current opportunities for young people and their families to engage.
How would you describe Stay Well to a stranger?
Stay Well is a program that offers a variety of online resources and educational opportunities to help Michiganders cope with the emotional challenges of COVID-19. It was created at the start of the pandemic by behavioral health professionals at the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS). The program’s first official act was to set up the Stay Well counseling line, offering free counseling 24/7. (The number to dial is 1-888-535-6136, then press “8.”)
Stay Well serves everyone in the state who may be experiencing pandemic-related emotional distress, and offers programming tailored to specific groups of people including health care professionals, first responders, older adults, teachers, and youth.
What are some resources you offer, and brief descriptions?
We have a “Resources for Teens” page on our website, Michigan.gov/StayWell, where you’ll find registration links for online workshops designed for teens, along with opportunities for them to engage with peers and learn mental wellness tips. For example:
- Coping with Grief and Loss – for Teens. This online workshop is led by a clinical mental health counselor who specializes in helping young people through their individual grief journeys using art, writing, mental exercises and other techniques. It runs for 4 consecutive Wednesdays in August.
- Staying Well: an emotional health workshop for teens (4 consecutive Tuesdays in August) is geared toward helping teens understand the causes and consequences of emotions. Participants learn how to turn off self-judgement, manage relationships better, and regulate their ups and downs — with the goal of finding more meaning and purpose in life.
- T.A.P – Take a Pause. This is a collection of short videos demonstrating easy ways to calm yourself in the moment. The techniques can be used by anyone, anywhere—and we’ve found they are especially good mindfulness tools for young people.
- Be Kind to your Mind: Friend Helping Friends. This recorded video explains how anxiety and depression manifests itself in young people, and how teens watching their friends struggle can offer help. The bonus is that anyone watching this video will learn ways to safeguard their own mental wellness.
- TEEN TALK online discussion group. Discussing what you’re feeling can be hard. But sometimes it’s easier when listeners are not in your personal social circle. Teens from all over Michigan can participate in the TEEN TALK group, which meets weekly on Zoom and is moderated by a Stay Well counselor.
On our website, you can also find new and upcoming programs that can be applicable to a variety of age groups. In addition there are archived webinars that may be of interest to you!
What are you most proud of about Stay Well or its offerings?
The Stay Well program has managed to remain in operation, supported by grant funding, since the heartbreaking early days of the pandemic. We’ve watched the level of emotional suffering wax and wane, and we’ve witnessed the mental-health impacts of all this suffering on the people of Michigan, particularly the young people. I am proud of the way our program has adapted over time to address the changing emotional support needs of Michiganders in crisis—especially since we couldn’t do any of it in person. We’ve leveraged technology to get the word out, conduct our educational programs, and keep our counseling hotline open 24/7.
What are some resources you offer that are lesser-known?
Last year we produced a collection of animated videos, written and narrated by our outreach specialists, called “Cultivating Joy.” The videos describe various ways to re-discover joy in your life. People really responded positively to these videos, but viewership has dropped off a little—so we always remind folks they can access Cultivating Joy on the Teen Resources page of our website (Michigan.gov/StayWell).
How can folks get involved, or support you?
- We are all about outreach! My team and I continuously reach out to community, business, and faith-based organizations throughout the state to spread the word about Stay Well. We love it when these organizations ask us to conduct virtual customized webinars for their members, employees, or followers.
- Schools, businesses, and other organizations can also help distribute Stay Well materials. We have free stickers, magnets and posters promoting our “Create Your Calm” campaign. Also available free of charge are printed brochures with mental wellness tips for teens and LGBTQ youth; and brochures for adults, older adults, and children recovering from the emotional toll of COVID-19 (these are available in English, Spanish, and Arabic). Please use this order form.
- Any individual needing emotional support can partake of our resources (i.e., call the Stay Well line, attend our workshops, watch our videos, join an online support group, etc.) – and even if you don’t partake, please tell your teenagers, neighbors, coworkers, extended family, and friends about our services.