The new video series is modeled on the be nice. four-step action plan: Notice, invite, challenge, and empower.
With consciousness surrounding mental health on the rise, many organizations in West Michigan have made it their mission to provide their constituents with resources. One of those, the Mental Health Foundation of West Michigan
has partnered with Grand Valley State University researchers to conduct an evidence-based study. That study has culminated in the creation of the be nice.
video series. The videos are currently in use all over the state of Michigan, from St. Joseph and Munising to Clarkson and Holland. Though the organization has many videos, this time the focus is on young adults.
Christy Buck, executive director, Mental Health Foundation of West Michigan.
“We know that 75% of mental health disorders come on by the age of 24 years old, and people may struggle with mental health in high school but never sought out help,” says Christy Buck, executive director of Mental Health Foundation of West Michigan/be nice. “Transitioning out of high school may create new risk factors that may affect mental health, so we opted to focus on the young adult demographic.”
Over the last decade, self-reported symptoms of major depression have increased 63% among young adults
. Knowing this, the be nice. video series offers four videos focusing on people aged 18-26. Each video focuses on a person of a different identity struggling with various mental health pressures — a Latinx youth, a member of the LGBTQ+ community, a veteran, and a student athlete.
“We conducted focus groups involving local individuals who cover these demographics to help create realistic and relatable storylines,” Buck says. “From those focus groups, we learned the LGBTQ demographic faces a lot of stigma related to DEI
in the workplace. With our college athlete, we actually have a fellow team member whose story we based that video off of. We also knew we wanted to tackle the stigma that veterans face reconnecting with family and community. The Latinx focused video is especially impactful because a majority of that video takes place in Spanish. Telling real, inclusive stories was very important to us.”
The series is modeled after the be nice. four-step action plan: Notice, invite, challenge, and empower.
“Every video has all aspects of the be nice. action plan. They're all important teaching moments because every video shows signs and symptoms of depression or a mental illness,” says Buck.
The be nice. video series focusing on young adults and the be nice, action plan is especially important today and could even save lives. According to CDC data, suicide rates for ages 10 to 24 year olds have increased by 57.4 percent
in the US over the past decade. Yet only about four in ten
adults who attempt suicide receive mental health care
Jessica Jones, be nice. communications director, and Isabella Buck, program coordinator.
The goal of the be nice. series is to bring awareness from some of those situations that might have contributed to this uptick and help people better care for those around them. The videos are meant to be used on college campuses — and with the inclusion of the student athlete, they could also translate to older high school students. This series joins other be nice. videos that have been made for other demographics as well.
“We have a youth video that covers youth in high school about 14 to 18 years old, and we completed another video series a couple years ago that covered middle-aged people working in a company,” says Buck.
The be nice. video program can be used anywhere to bring further awareness to mental illness and encourages viewers to have empathy and support those around them in need. With the videos spanning multiple age demographics and plans to include older adults in the future, it is important to mention that these videos as well as other be nice. programs are not just for Michigan. A recent launch with the Alaska School Activities Association
introduces be nice. as the training tool for all middle and high school coaches in the state of Alaska.
Ashley King is a born-and-raised Michigander. She wants to use her writing expertise gained from her time studying at the University of Michigan to make sure the stories of Michigan reach far and wide across the Mitten.
Photos courtesy Mental Health Foundation of West Michigan.
Photo of Jessica Jones and Isabella Buck by Tommy Allen.
The MI Mental Health series highlights the opportunities that Michigan's children, teens, and adults of all ages have to find the mental health help they need, when and where they need it. It is made possible with funding from the Community Mental Health Association of Michigan, Center for Health and Research Transformation, Genesee Health System, Mental Health Foundation of West Michigan, North Country CMH, Northern Lakes CMH Authority, OnPoint, Sanilac County CMH, St. Clair County CMH, Summit Pointe, and Washtenaw County CMH.
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