Teen Wellness Counselor

Creating a New-Media Version of Teen Wellness

Teen Wellness is an existing product owned by Mevident, Inc., the company I founded in 2008. The product was first introduced in July 2010 and formally launched in 2011. This is a product that school counselors use to teach resiliency skills to middle/high school students. It is a 13-chapter curriculum created based on mindfulness, positive psychology, interpersonal theories, and behavior activation. Each chapter comes with a lesson, personal exercises and character stories that integrate the lesson content. School counselors can create and administer student accounts, monitor their activities and provide feedback.Our proposal is to create a new media version that is more engaging for today’s teenage students who are used to advanced online media.Existing version is almost 100% text-based, due to the original material we have licensed and adapted. The original material came from the tool developed around 2006-2007 by Dr. Benjamin Van Voorhees, Chief, Section of General Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine at University of Illinois, Chicago.Specifically, we would like to add following features and functions:

  • Add a video or animation in the beginning of each chapter lesson to deliver the currently text-based chapter content more effectively
  • Replace the text-based story with a video to communicate the message better
  • Make the personal exercise more interactive
  • Change the layout of each chapter to be more interactive
  • Add more interactive functions in order to create more meaningful relationship between students and their school counselor

The current product has been used with actual students by several schools which acknowledge this is a unique and valuable concept:

  • Teen Wellness focuses on fundamental life skills such as self-confidence, self-awareness, self-regulation, problem solving, communication, and relationship building. The other similar products often focus on symptoms of lack of life skills such as bullying, violence, substance abuse, and self-harm. Teen Wellness is a proactive and preventive solution, not a reactive response to problems.
  • Teen Wellness is a hybrid model between human interventions and technology applications, to help school counselors be more effective yet maintain personal connections with students. The other similar products and services are often just technologies or just human intervention.
  • Teen Wellness is evidence-based, based on the long-term academic research around resiliency skills education and prevention of mental illness / behavioral issues among teenagers.

However, they point out that it needs to be rebuilt with media technologies to make it easier for them to engage students in this important material. They point out that this text presentation of material creates immediate resistance from students to even consider what is taught.

We have a partnership with Naviance, a school counselor platform adopted by 5,000 schools. Naviance strongly supports our concept of teaching critical life skills to middle/high school students. Teen Wellness is one of selective applications Naviance has decided to create an API with. However, they have also received feedback from their customers that our product is not modern enough to use with today’s students. If we could improve our product to be user friendly, with our partnership with Naviance, there’s a possibility to reach millions of students.

Dr. Van Voorhees’s research with the original online material has shown the effectiveness of teaching resiliency skills in preventing depression among teenagers, helping teenagers engage more in academic activities and helping them build better social support around them. Also the study has shown that the involvement of trusted professionals often enhance the outcome of teaching resiliency skills. Finally, the study has shown that the use of internet tool made it easier for students to have personal space to interact with material in deeper manner than merely sitting and listening to a lecture.

Teen Wellness has incorporated all his learning by ensuring the involvement of school counselors in teaching students with resiliency skills and maintaining the structure of providing each student with their personal account to work on personal exercises.

However, Dr. Van Voorhees also acknowledges that the nature of original text material may not appeal to today’s teenagers in 2012. The new research he has recently launched will examine the use of media technologies. Dr. Van Voorhees is serving us a technical advisor to us and will be a valuable asset in re-designing Teen Wellness to be more appropriate to today’s students yet maintain academic foundations.

While everything points to the direction that we should re-develop Teen Wellness with media technologies, we have not been able to take on such a project, due to the financial constraints. This has led to my decision to submit ourselves into this challenge.

Since Mevident, Inc. is set up as for-profit, I, Asako Tsumagari, founder & CEO, will represent this submission. Prior to starting Mevident, Inc., I was Sr. Director of Strategy & Business Development at Philips Electronics Consumer Healthcare division.

Team

Asako Tsumagari, MBA – Founder & CEO. Asako founded Mevident with the vision for an integrated, web-based wellness solution for today’s healthcare challenges. Prior to founding Mevident, Asako served as Senior Director of Business Development of Consumer Healthcare at Philips Electronics. Prior to Philips, Asako spent eight years as an investment banker at Morgan Stanley and management consultant at McKinsey. Asako holds an MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.

 

Phil Hardaker, MS – Engineering Lead. Phil brings more than 20 years’ experience in leading the development of database-driven enterprise and internet applications. Phil is a web developer at Care2, and has previously worked in such capacity at Learning as Leadership, Norcal USFA, GoLightly Community, and Taproot Foundation, among others. Phil holds an MSEE from California State University-Northridge, a BSEE from UCLA, and has served in the US Army.

 

Zheren Zhang, MS – Engineer. Zheren graduated from Stanford University with a Master of Science in Computer Science and is passionate about creating technologies that can make a difference in people’s lives. He also holds a B.A. in Business Economics and a B.S. in Computer Science and Engineering from UCLA. In his spare time, he likes traveling, playing video games, and watching movies.

 

Andrew Kramer, B.Sc Physics, Teacher Cert. – Sales. Andrew brings more than 25 years experience in marketing educational technology products to K-12 schools across the US. Andrew previously founded and was CEO of Perfect Solutions Software Inc., developer of the Laser PC5&6 portable word processors.  He pioneered the use of inexpensive Text-to-Speech using his portable word processors for full classroom inclusion to develop student literacy. Andrew earned his B.Sc from SUNY Stony Brook, NY, and his teacher certification from UBC, Vancouver, Canada.

 

Dr. Benjamin W. Van Voorhees, MD, MPH – Technical Advisor. Dr. Van Voorhees is currently Chief, Section of General Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine at University of Illinois, Chicago. He received is his Doctor of Medicine from Vanderbilt University, and his Master of Public Health from Johns Hopkins. The limitations of current treatment approaches, barriers to care and damage caused to the development of adolescents by depression led Dr. Van Voorhees to develop an alternative strategy, a combined primary care web-based depression prevention intervention. His work has been supported by the Centers for Disease Control, NARSAD and RWJ Foundations and the National Institutes of Mental Health.

 

Monika Marko-Holguin, MA – Advisor. Monika Marko-Holguin is currently Research Specialist, Developmental Psychology at University of Illinois Chicago. She received Master in Developmental Psychology at University of Chicago and Bachelor in Psychology & Statistics at DePaul University. She has been managing the study implementation of Project CATCH-IT (Competent Adulthood Transition with Cognitive-Behavioral and Interpersonal Training) at both University of Chicago and University of Illinois Chicago. She has co-authored numerous articles on the project on peer-reviewed psychology journals.

 

Mevident Will Spend the Money in the Following Areas

  • Hiring creative designers to develop new product designs and create media content ($8~10K)
  • Hiring additional software engineers with media expertise to re-program the product based on the new design specifications and re-install API with Naviance platform ($8~10K)
  • Marketing of the new product through publications and tradeshows ($2~5K)

In summary, I believe this proposal to re-create our Teen Wellness product can be considered as a strong contender in this challenge.

First, the existing product already satisfies all your criteria. It is a product to help teenage students to learn, practice and improve the critical life skills including self-awareness, authenticity, trust and empathy. It is serving both education and wellness segments, and managed by a company that also addresses wellness and workplace. It helps authentic connections between students and their school counselors in the school community settings. It uses internet curriculum technologies and has proven that teenage students can use it.

Second, Teen Wellness has already established critical industrial and academic relations that would help disseminating its applications in the large scale, when we launch the improved version. It has been already tried by actual users. This is not a hypothetical idea of what-if, this is a real idea that has legs.

Lastly, we have a team in place that is passionate about wellness. The team has proven that they are committed to execute and deliver against their plan. With very limited fund, they have already launched two products, one is Teen Wellness and another is Mevident platform. Both are actually used by real users. I am confident that we will not waste any cent of the grant money, if we are granted.