While the mental health crisis in the United States continues, people across the country are doing more to help young people improve their lives with better mental health resources.
At the forefront of this well-being push is WeBeWell, a Utah startup that teaches people (especially college students and youth) skills from positive and clinical psychology that help improve their mental health. Students can then practice those skills with a group of their peers learning alongside them.
WeBeWell founder and CEO Alexander Becraft – a student in the Masters of Business Creation (MBC) program at the University of Utah’s David Eccles School of Business – said, “We exist because there is a mental health crisis with youth and college students. We are striving to provide students in need evidence-based skills to help them build mental and emotional strength and empower them to realize meaningful and flourishing lives.”
Co-founder and COO Mitchell Wulfman, who is also in the MBC program, is a believer in positive psychology and wants to bring its benefits to as many people as he can. He and Becraft see more demand for mental health resources than is currently being met with school resources and are working to add more resources to what already exists.
WeBeWell helps to fill this gap by using peer groups as a vehicle to improve mental health. In the WeBeWell system, the ratio is about two facilitators (who are often past graduates of the program) to 10 participants — and they usually meet virtually to be even more accessible. Done this way, their evidence-based program can be used to help large swaths of people while being cost-effective and accessible.
And it’s not just cost-effective: it also works. Multiple randomized controlled trials and independent studies at the University of Utah have shown that WeBeWell’s program improves mental health and well-being, and decreases depression, anxiety, and stress in participants.
The success of their program in helping people is paralleled by business success. Within two years of their launch, they were a finalist in the American Dream Ideas Challenge and received a total of $1,000,000 in grant funding “from Eric and Wendy Schmidt’s philanthropic venture, Schmidt Futures.”
WeBeWell has run programs at the University of Utah, with middle and high school students in Summit and Wasatch counties, and with residents in drug and alcohol treatment.
The founders view the MBC program as a key stepping stone in WeBeWell’s mission.
“The MBC program is like the deal of a lifetime because you get one-on-one time with these highly accomplished people that you wouldn’t have access to otherwise,” Wulfman said. “That and the accountability the program brings have been a huge boon to the business.”
Becraft added, “At the end of the day, we want to make this world a little bit of a better place by supporting the well-being of people in need. The skills we teach are empowering those we serve, and they have also had an incredible impact on my own life.”
Learn more about WeBeWell at webewell.co.