Over the years, some of our best and most meaningful programs got their start through a student's initiative. This year, wellness in the Upper School is a stunning example of this work. The B-Well initiative (B for Brentwood) was created by 12th graders Alexandra B., Leo B., Davis J., and 11th grader Julia T. They were concerned with the mental health of Brentwood students and the need for both resources and proverbial “safety nets” for all of them.
Last spring, the students took their concerns to the Belldegrun Center where they worked with faculty and staff in the Incubator to brainstorm and develop the B-Well program, which is a three pronged approach to mental wellness.
First, through a great deal of research, they created a database of resources for students that lives on the Upper School Schoology page for easy access. This page includes resources on a wide range of topics: positive psychology, exercise, anxiety, depression, suicide and self-harm, sleep hygiene, eating and mood disorders, sexual health and relationships, as well as emergency hotlines. Sections include information, exercises, and various activities. Reading this list as a parent, I know that it ushers in more than a small dose of anxiety. The harsh reality, however, is that these are issues our students face, and these resources will only help them in addressing and handling these concerns. In fact, in recent conversations with high level administrators at both UCLA and USC, both commented that their major concern about students is their mental health as they enter their first year of college.
Second, each month there is a spotlight campaign on some aspect of mental health. The first spotlight was in May of last year, and the focus was on sleep hygiene and time management. In September the theme was “What is Mental Health?” and this month’s focus is on anxiety. To this end, the group hosted UCLA professor and Brentwood parent, Dr. Robert Bilder, at an assembly to discuss anxiety with the entire Upper School. He did a wonderful job of connecting with the audience and making understandable the sources and impacts of anxiety, as well as measures to take when dealing with anxiety.
The third and final prong is working with our Counseling Department to make it easier for students to schedule appointments confidentially with one of our school counselors. Working together, the students and counselors are researching several possible solutions.
While all the foregoing is great, what is even better is that the students, along with their faculty advisor—Bryan Anderson, Director of Counseling in the Upper School—have already begun planning how to ensure that the B-Well program grows into a permanent fixture at Brentwood.
This initiative is a wonderful example of our Statement of Purpose in action. The students recognized a problem, tapped into their creativity, and are thus creating a meaningful and healthier future for Brentwood students.
Have a great weekend.