We R Native

Below are excerpts from this grantee’s quarterly reports.

Year 2, Quarter 1

Briefly restate the specific aims or objectives associated with this project.

The scope of work proposed in Year 2 will involve partnerships between We R Native (WRN), the mHealth Impact Lab, and Headstream – an incubator that fosters resilient economies for both people and the planet.

Building off the research carried out in Year 1, our teams will:

Aim 1. WRN staff will work closely with the NPAIHB’s 12 Youth Delegates to design and produce new wellness messages – filling gaps in We R Native’s mental health content.

Aim 2. mHealth will assess whether WRN’s wellness messages impact youth norms, helpseeking self-efficacy and behaviors related to mental health, resilience, and cultural pride.

With regard to Year 2 Quarter 1 progress, We R Native described the following:

  • The Native Youth Springboard Lab has been transformed into a virtual format. The travel budget for the 20 youth participants have been repurposed as youth stipends!
  • We R Native is setting up contracts with Fizziology (now MarketCast) to help gauge the reach and impact of the mental wellness campaigns that emerge from the Springboard Lab process. MarketCast will apply their network analysis capabilities to asses the campaign’s uptake, reach, and impact on youth’s social media conversations.

Quarter 4

Briefly restate the specific aims or objectives associated with this project.

Aim 1. Carry out formative research to evaluate the quality and usability of the mental health messages delivered by We R Native through its multimedia messaging channels (including the http://www.weRnative.org website, the Ask Auntie Q&A service, our text messaging service, and our social media platforms) with 45+ AI/AN youth 15-24 years old.

Aim 2. Rigorously test whether We R Native’s messages impact youth norms, intentions, self-efficacy and behaviors related to mental health, resilience, and cultural pride; as well as the relative impact of each communication channel (including its website, Ask Auntie Q&A service, text messaging service, and social media channels) and user engagement.

Briefly summarize (3-5 sentences) what was accomplished with regard to these aims in the present quarter.

In the last quarter, youth who enrolled in the BRAVE study have been exposed to the first arm of the study, either:

  • 8 weeks of BRAVE text messages + role model videos designed to improve mental health, help-seeking skills, and promote cultural pride and resilience; or
  • 8 weeks of STEM text messages + role model videos designed to elevate and re-affirm Native voices in science, technology, engineering, math and medicine.

In the last month, the two groups switched study arms and are now receiving the second set of text messages. See:  http://www.npaihb.org/brave/

Quarter 3

Tell us about key learnings you’ve uncovered over the course of your project, including advice you might give to investigators conducting similar work.

The first aim of our study has given us the opportunity to investigate and better understand the quality and utilization of We R Native’s current mental health messages. Here is a summary of our findings:

Top Mental Health pages viewed on We R Native

In 2019, our mental health pages on www.weRnative.org received 2.8K pageviews, up 17% from the year before. On average, users viewed 4 pages per session and visited the site for over 7 minutes (far longer than when visiting other sections of the website). The most viewed pages focused on wellness and healing, tips for becoming resilient, ways to improve your mood, and spiritual wellbeing.

Preferred Messaging Channels

We conducted a pre-survey with AI/AN teens and young adults interested in being interviewed about their experience using We R Native’s communication channels. Users ranked the channels they’d prefer to get messages on, ranking text messaging and Instagram most favorably.

Quality, Trust and Impact of We R Native’s Mental Health Messages:

Interview participants shared numerous ways We R Native’s messages have improved their own mental health, cultural connectedness, sense of self-worth, and access to health resources – both for themselves and their loved ones:

“I used to believe that mental illness was something to be ashamed about and the way that people look at it on the website – they look at it as a story, and that story can help so many other people – knowing that they’re not alone, knowing that there are other people to talk to.”

Priority Mental Health Concerns

When asked to reflect on their own mental health concerns, teens 15-17 years-old identified stress, depression, and anxiety. The young adults 18-24 years-old discussed suicide prevention, depression, and unhealthy relationships. Overall, grief and depression were the most common mental health topics discussed by participants, followed by stress and mental wellness skills (e.g. coping mechanisms).

Quarter 2

Tell us about the anticipated or real-time impact of this project.

Research investigating the effectiveness of social media- and text-based interventions has yet to focus on mental health outcomes for AI/AN youth. As a result, there are no rigorously evaluated interventions using these ubiquitous messaging platforms and technologies. The BRAVE study will focus on widely-available communication platforms that have not been widely studied in relation to adolescent mental health. Our intervention will reach 1,500 AI/AN Native teens and young adults nationwide.

Tell us about problems encountered, changes to your approach, and reasons behind these changes.

We anticipated interviewing 45 AI/AN teens and young adults (10+ who have used the website, 10+ who’ve used our Ask Auntie Q&A service, 10+ who have used our text messaging service, and 10+ who have used our social media platforms). Through the interest form and first 9 interviews, we are finding that most youth report using more than one channel and revised our interview guide to cover all (applicable) channels during the interview.

Quarter 1

What excites you about the funded project?

We are so incredibly grateful for the opportunity to do this work. It is generating new analytic tools we will use to monitor our messaging’s uptake and impact, and it’s creating new opportunities for us to hear first-hand from our users about ways we can better support their mental health and wellness. This work will inform the development of innovative tools to support resilience and help-seeking run across We R Native’s messaging channels.

Tell us more about your team!

· Stephanie Craig Rushing, PhD, MPH, is the daughter of a teacher and a coffee salesman, mother of two mischief-makers, and a PI at the Northwest Portland Area Indian Health Board.

· Morgan Thomas, MFA, is a short-story writer from the Gulf Coast.

· Jackie Johnson is a Makah Tribal member, NPAIHB Research Assistant, and interview extraordinaire for the TAM study.

· David Stephens, BSN, RN, is a Haida descendant, son of a tribal health director and school bus driver, father of a lively 2-year-old, and a nurse with a passion for improving the lives of Native youth.

· Sheana Bull, PhD, MPH is native to Thunder Bay, Ontario Canada, but raised in the U.S., and has lived the past 22 years in Denver, Colorado, where she and her husband have raised two kids.

· Isaac Alawobu: A Ghanaian and currently the Business Manager for the mHealth Impact Lab.

· Kira Elsbernd: Originally from northern California, Kira Elsbernd, MPH is a graduate research assistant at the mHealth Impact Lab in the Colorado School of Public Health.

· Kelsey Ford MPH DrPH(c) is a project manager and research assistant at the mHealth Impact Lab.