Accessible mental health services have become more important now more than ever, and fourth-year psychology and social entrepreneurship major Alexander Becraft is determined to do something about it.
Becraft and his team (Ayana Amaechi, Merry Joseph, Michelle Valdes, Mitchell Wulfman, and Ryan Jackson) have created an initiative called Well-being Elevated to bring the teachings of positive psychology to students and educational institutions around the country. How is this done? An app with interactive courses developed by professionals and weekly support meetings, currently held over Zoom.
“We want to be more than just an app,” Becraft said. “We want to have that human connection because face-to-face interaction is integral to sound mental health.”
Becraft and his team knew they wanted to incorporate positive psychology into Well-being Elevated, and what better place to develop content than alongside world renowned psychologists, Ed and Carol Diener. After being encouraged to submit to the 2019-2020 American Dream Ideas Challenge, Becraft’s team was introduced to the Dieners. The team shared second place in the competition at the national stage and was awarded $500,000 from Schmidt Futures to develop the company.
“Being introduced to the Dieners was a game-changer because they’re both so prominent in the world of psychology, and they already had the content that we were looking to build,” Becraft said. “We are so fortunate to work with such amazing mentors and luminaries.”
Alongside research proving to decrease stress and depression levels, Becraft knew the power of positive psychology because of his own personal experiences. Inspired to bring these resilience techniques to others, the idea of Well-being Elevated started to come to life.
“It really helped me in a time of adversity,” Becraft said. “Whether it was gratitude practices, really focusing on my strengths and values and setting congruent goals, it was really important for me when I had external challenges present themselves in my life.”
The Spring initiative launched in February with 160 students and 9 facilitators. However, next Fall, a much larger launch is planned that includes a fully functional app and even more participants. As students graduate the program, the team seeks to train them to become facilitators, creating a space for students, by students.
What makes Well-being Elevated different is its scalability; the team hopes to spread to institutions far and wide as a social enterprise, expanding to other universities and even high schools in the future.
“We want to scale to other colleges throughout the state of Utah and eventually the nation because there’s a need for preventative mental health services,” Becraft said. “Clinicians in counseling centers are working very hard to serve students, but the demand for mental health services outweighs the supply of counselors. Well-being Elevated seeks to promote resilience and well-being on the front end, as one piece in the prevention puzzle.”
While Well-being Elevated’s psychological education isn’t therapy, it is a new, accessible approach to mental health promotion. Students supporting each other on a common mission to thrive and build resilience is very powerful, Becraft said.
“We want students to know that there are tools out there for them to improve resilience and well-being and help them flourish and thrive in their lives,” Becraft said. “Also, we want students to know that Well-being Elevated is here for them.”
The Spring pilot is currently full, but you can reach out to Becraft at email@example.com to learn about future opportunities to participate.
Find this article and a lot more in the 2021 “Student Innovation @ the U” report. The publication is presented by the Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute to celebrate student innovators, change-makers, and entrepreneurs.