Oluwadamilola Akintewe, a Chegg.org Global Student Prize 2021 top 10 finalist from Nigeria, will play a key role in the inaugural Student Mental Health Week.
She is a founder of Forbidden Topics, a Facebook platform aiming to break the silence on social injustices such as sexual assault and give women a voice in the community. She has also launched programs in her home state, Ondo, such as LetGirlsLead, which provides mentorship and support for secondary school girls, and Project Rebirth, using entrepreneurial action to deliver financial equality and inclusion for low-income women in the state.
The inaugural global initiative, taking place February 6-12, 2023, is being organized by Chegg, the leading student-first online learning company, in collaboration with five esteemed non-profits: Born This Way Foundation, launched and led by Lady Gaga and her mother, Cynthia Germanotta, which supports youth mental health; the Jed Foundation (JED), which protects emotional wellbeing and prevents suicide for teens and young adults; the Inspiring Children Foundation, co-chaired by American singer-songwriter Jewel, which runs programs to nurture young people’s mental, emotional, and physical health; Young Invincibles, which leads advocacy efforts centered on improving the lives of young adults and increasing their access to mental health services; and the Varkey Foundation, which looks to improve the quality education for every child by building the status of teachers around the world.
During the week, Oluwadamilola and her team at the Forbidden Topics initiative will launch a series of videos centered around student mental health, posted on Forbidden Topics’ Instagram account. Through these videos, Oluwadamilola will encourage Nigerian students to have open conversations about their mental health, and share their experiences and accessible resources.
Chegg.org Global Student Prize 2021 top 10 finalist Oluwadamilola Akintewe said, “Thank you to Chegg and everyone involved in creating this campaign. Forbidden Topics has always been about giving young people a voice, and encouraging them to seek help when they need it. We are proud to be taking part in the inaugural Student Mental Health Week, and hope to help create a safe space for students to discuss their mental health.”
“We are proud to launch Student Mental Health Week, and hope to put this issue right at the top of the policy agenda,” said Dan Rosensweig, CEO and President of Chegg. “Students around the world face a perfect storm of different challenges – from learning in the aftermath of the pandemic, rising debt levels,1 and now global economic uncertainity.2 Through this campaign, we want to continue our commitment to holistically supporting students, so that they can make the most of their education, their relationships, and their ability to face the future with confidence.”
The global campaign seeks to destigmatize mental health among students, encourage young people to be intentional about looking after themselves, and inspire conversations around what policymakers, education institutions, the wider community, parents, and learners themselves can do to support student mental wellness.
Activities kicking off during the week of February 6-12, 2023:
Chegg, for the very first time, will bring together the mental health resources of these five collaboration partners, including simple tips to improve mental wellness, under a centralized online resource, and signpost the support available to its millions of students worldwide, via a new Student Mental Health Week website.
Student Mental Health Week will encompass a variety of events, including social media live events, to help educate policymakers, educational institutions, and communities on the mental health challenges students now face.
The Jed foundation will co-host a 30-minute Q&A on Instagram Live to discuss current mental health challenges among students, how they can reach out for help, how they can give help to a friend, and where they can go to get more support.
Finalists of the Chegg.org $100,000 Global Student Prize will be asked to share how they look after their mental wellness, which resources they turn to for support, facts about student mental health in their country, and projects they are involved with on the ground.
Finalists of the $1 million Global Teacher Prize will highlight how they have seen mental health impact their students and offer advice to their fellow teachers on supporting young people’s mental wellness.
Chegg plans to also work with students around the world to develop Call To Action initiatives to their respective governments and policymakers calling for more robust mental health support.
Stanford University women’s basketball star Cameron Brink, who is Chegg’s newest student athlete brand ambassador, has also stepped forward to join the campaign. She said, “Students today are under a lot of pressure, whether they are juggling their degree with work, family, or, like me, sports. That’s why I am proud to be partnering with Chegg to highlight the importance of student mental wellness.”
In November 2022, Chegg partnered with Calm to give Chegg Study Pack subscribers around the world free access to Calm Premium’s subscription service, which includes guided meditation for anxiety and stress, and music tracks to cultivate focus and relaxation.
Last year, the Chegg.org Global Student Survey, covering 21 countries, showed that nearly one-third of students worldwide (32%) felt that their mental health had worsened since returning to campus after lockdown restrictions. The same survey revealed that 39% of students around the world with study-related debt or loans lose sleep over it, and a quarter (25%) feel so anxious over their study loan that they have sought medical help. A new ‘Student Behavior Study’, commissioned by Chegg’s Center For Digital Learning in partnership with Hanover Research, which polled more than 2,000 higher education students in the US, UK, and Canada, found that nearly three-quarters (74%) of students tend to feel anxious about their classes and schoolwork, and 68% do not get enough sleep. It also revealed that many students suffer from loneliness, with almost half (45%) struggling to meet new people or make friends.3
“Born This Way Foundation is thrilled to partner with Chegg for their Student Mental Health Week initiative, which brings light to the need for mental health support among youth everywhere,” said Maya Smith, Executive Director of Born This Way Foundation. “Through this initiative, we are proud to share and distribute the Be There Certificate across many platforms to provide young people with the knowledge, skills, and confidence they need to safely and kindly support their peers who may be struggling with their mental health.”
“Now more than ever, it’s critical that students have opportunities and resources to develop mental health and wellness skills,” said Rebecca Benghiat, President and Chief Operating Officer of The Jed Foundation (JED). “We are proud to collaborate with Chegg to reach and support students with information and resources to manage their emotional health, support one another, and cope with challenges. By building and mobilizing communities of care, we can spark real change.”
Jewel, US singer-songwriter and co-Chair of the Inspiring Children Foundation, said, “Since the Covid pandemic, anxiety and depression have reached historical highs, with young people particularly affected. We are proud to join this important campaign, to encourage students to share the simple ways in which they nurture their mental health to become their best selves, and how their communities can help them get there.”
Kristin McGuire, Executive Director of Young Invincibles said, “We are excited to partner with Chegg to advance the conversation surrounding mental health and advocate for further resources and policies to support students. It is reassuring to witness mental health wellness finally receiving the attention it deserves, and we are determined to continue our efforts in shedding light on this issue. The Covid-19 pandemic adversely affected students’ mental health nationwide, and it is critical for young people to get quality, accessible mental health care, and support. We are prioritizing young adults’ demands for expanding mental health resources and will continue raising awareness with this inaugural Student Mental Health Week.”
Sunny Varkey, Founder of the Varkey Foundation, said, “Today’s students face the monumental task of solving some of humanity’s greatest challenges to build a better tomorrow, and it’s essential that we support their mental wellness. We look forward to working with our Global Teacher Prize community to help share their insights from the frontlines of education, and alert policymakers to the tools educators need to support their students’ mental health, as well as their own.”
Chegg.org Global Student Prize 2022 winner Igor Klymenko, who recently moved to Canada from Ukraine, said, “Thank you to Chegg and all its partners for this important campaign. I am proud to be taking part in the very first Student Mental Health Week, and I look forward to connecting with other students to support each other and call attention to this issue. Attending university far away from home, sometimes I miss my family and friends and it can get me down. But whenever this happens, I pick up the phone to chat to a loved one, or I listen to music from my native Ukraine. I encourage others to reach out and connect with others if they are struggling with their mental health.”