In Canada, an estimated 70 percent of mental health problems have their onset during childhood or adolescence. In both Canada and the U.S., in any given year one in five people will experience mental health or addiction problems.
Early investment in well-being promotion, mental health prevention, and early identification for young people followed by rapid access to effective interventions can be expected to lessen the burden of illness significantly. It can also be expected to pay dividends because the burden and cost of illness will be lessened along their lifespan.
WE Well-being is centered on evidence-based prevention and promotion strategies and is designed to build a foundation of awareness, understanding, and action—providing the resources and platform to foster an open conversation about positive well-being for youth, educators (K-12), post-secondary students, families, and workplaces.
Promotion and Prevention:
Drawing upon evidence-based mental health promotion and prevention strategies, we support the early development of mental well-being through accessible and inclusive programs, making well-being stigma-free, and reaching millions of youth and families at the most formative points in life.
Taking Action & Accessibility:
Translating the science of well-being into everyday action, we provide clear pathways and resources to promote mental well-being, including through action-oriented curriculum in schools, professional learning for educators, youth and family workshops, mass awareness campaigns, podcasts, books, and workbooks.
Youth as Change-Agents:
Leveraging our youth-centric platform, we engage youth-as-change makers and leaders in promoting their own mental well-being and supporting the well-being of their schools, families, and communities.
Reach & Impact:
We are leveraging the WE organization’s network of 4+ million students, 16,000 schools, tens of thousands of engaged educators, technology platforms such as the WE Global Learning Centre, celebrity ambassadors, WE Day stadium events with 250,000 participants – all towards reaching millions of people with the tools and resources for impact.
Why youth mental health?
There is a need to empower educators and youth with well-being promotion and supports Healthy emotional and social development in early years lay the foundation for mental health and resilience throughout life.
We know schools in North America and the UK are seeking the resources and tools to integrate well-being into the classroom. The demand for child and youth mental health support far exceeds the ability of current clinical, community-based and school district response systems. WE surveyed 600 educators about well-being and found:
- 88% of educators are interested in learning mental well-being basics
- 80% of educators are interested in learning self-care
We will embed well-being into the daily learning and actions of young people. The program will equip students and educators with educational curriculum and supporting resources that foster social, emotional physical, and mental well-being inside and outside of the classroom. Moreover, the program will empower participants to build safe and caring environments, while reducing stigma and other mental health risk factors.
We are also developing a series of multimedia materials for people of all ages to support the promotion of their well-being and that of their communities, along with a series of simple actions to help nurture a positive sense of well-being.
Inspiration and education:
- Everyday actions
- Podcast series
- Video series
- Social media campaigns
- Books and journals
- Inspiring stories
- WE Day onstage segments
- Camp programming
- Youth and post-secondary school workshops
- Family and workplace workshops
The Erika Legacy Foundation
A very special thank you to our founding partners, The Erika Legacy Foundation and the Elkington family, for their critical role in inspiring and supporting WE Well-being.
Erika Elkington believed people had greatness within them and success was something we could all achieve. Passionate about travel and languages, she herself took on many challenges and was always learning. She spoke multiple languages and had seen much of the world by the age of 26.
Erika had a Bachelor of Education, a Certified Human Resources Professional designation, graduated from the Sauder School of Business in family business and earned an MBA. With her love of business and entrepreneurship, combined with her passion for teaching, Erika focused on helping women in the workplace, youth and start-up businesses succeed.
Erika was also a woman who wasn’t always sure of herself. Yet she was determined to push herself and find her greatness. That greatness, she believed, was found in being loving, caring and inspiring to others.
“She was loved by all. Those who had a chance to know her will tell you, her spirit and drive were infectious and she brought joy to everything and everyone she touched. Why Erika is no longer with us today is difficult to understand. Mental health and suicide is often like that; difficult to understand.”
Erika, 29, died by suicide on August 6, 2015; she was one month away from celebrating her 30th birthday.
To honor Erika, family and close friends created The Erika Legacy Foundation in 2016. The mission of the foundation serves to honor Erika and the person she was by:
- Taking innovative approaches to prevent what happened to her from happening to other people
- Investing in research into the science behind suicide and mental health
- Promoting entrepreneurship and leadership
The Erika Legacy Foundation strives to build safer and inspired communities by partnering with charitable organizations that capture the spirit of what Erika believed in.
Dr. Kimberly Schonert-Reichl
Applied Development Psychologist and a Professor in Human Development, Learning and Culture at the University of British Columbia, Dr. Kimberly Schonert-Reichl is a renowned expert in social and emotional learning research with children and adolescents. She is also the Director of the Human Early Learning Partnership in the School of Population and Public Health in the Faculty of Medicine at UBC.
Dr. Stan Kutcher
Sun Life Financial Chair in Adolescent Mental Health and Director of the World Health Organization Collaborating Centre in Mental Health Policy and Training at Dalhousie University, Dr. Stan Kutcher is a renowned expert in adolescent mental health and a leader in mental health research.
Maria La Rose
Award-winning television producer and interviewer Maria La Rose has a sense of what is engaging and memorable to audiences. Whether she is producing a television documentary or an educational video, moderating a dynamic dialogue or doing a personal performance coaching, she is always engaging and captivating an audience.
Lisa Pedrini has worked at HELP (Human Early Learning Partnership) as a National Scale-Out Project Manager. There, she helped launch the Middle Years Development Instrument (MDI)—a self-report questionnaire completed by children in Grades 4 and 7 that asks them how they think and feel about their experience both in and outside of school—in Canada. Questions relate to areas of development that are strongly linked to well-being, health and academic achievement. Lisa has also held various roles in education, most recently as the Manager for Social Responsibility and Diversity for the Vancouver School District.
Safe Schools Coordinator in Coquitlam, BC, Marna MacMillan, is a leader in social and emotional learning, curriculum and safe schools. A teacher for the past 28 years, she coordinates implementation of both the Grade 4 and 7 Middle Years Development Instrument (MDI), a self-report questionnaire completed by children in Grades 4 and 7 that asks them how they think and feel about their experience both in and outside of school. Questions relate to areas of development that are strongly linked to well-being, health and academic achievement.
Shawn A-in-chut Atleo
Hereditary Chief from B.C.’s Ahousaht First Nation and former co-chair of the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council, Shawn has served First Nations as a leader, facilitator, mediator, planner and teacher. He was elected as BC Regional Chief in 2009, and National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations in 2009 and 2012.
An experienced negotiator, mediator, strategist and facilitator, Heather Atleo has extensive background in strategic partnerships and business investments, engagement, communications and policy analysis and development.
Leysa Cerswell Kielburger
Leysa is a faculty member at the Centre for Mindfulness Studies and a mental health strategist. She specializes in community-based mental health care and the delivery of culturally grounded, evidence-based services, including mindfulness-based cognitive and behavioral therapies.
Strategic Director, WE Schools & WE Well-Being Project Lead
Applied Development Psychologist and a Professor in the Human Catherine’s career in Catherine’s career in education includes over 25 years’ experience in teaching, counseling and curriculum leadership. She has taught in elementary, secondary and post-secondary settings at public and independent schools, as well as at WE, where she leads curriculum development and educator professional learning for WE Schools.
Her credentials include a Master of Education degree (Curriculum & Instruction) from the University of British Columbia, a Bachelor of Education degree from York University and a Bachelor of Arts degree (Psychology) from Wilfrid Laurier University. She also completed a diploma in Canadian Independent School Leadership.
WE Director of Educational Partnerships, Western Canada
Applied Development Psychologist and a Professor in the Human Catherine’s career in Maureen has spent her career in education working as a teacher, university faculty associate, principal and assistant superintendent for the Coquitlam School District.
As the Superintendent of Reading/Literacy and Early Learning at the BC Ministry of Education, Maureen was a team member supporting the redesign of British Columbia’s K-12 curriculum and competency development.
Maureen is frequently called upon to provide advice on policy, process and practice in the realms of professional learning, collaborative practice, educational leadership, curriculum implementation and assessment.
She holds a Master’s of Education from Simon Fraser University.
Jeff Hainbuch, Head,
WE Educational Partnerships
Jeff is an experienced educator with over 25 years in public education. He has extensive experience leading schools, developing curriculum, working in leadership and staff development and special education, and serving marginalized communities.
Jeff has been a teacher at both the elementary and middle school levels as well as a principal. For many years, Jeff’s work was focused on creating, supporting and implementing district-wide social justice programming. He also spent time working as a superintendent lead in support of Special Education.
He holds an Honors Degree in Physical Education, a Bachelor of Education from York University and a Master’s of Education in Guidance and Counselling from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE).