University launches “We are Wake” initiative

The initiative aims to connect students to university-sourced mental health resources


Evan Harris

Assistant Vice President for Health and Wellbeing Dr. Warrenetta Mann (right) speaks with attendees at a Jan. 24 kick-off event.

Claire O'Brien, Contributing Writer

We are Wake, a program aimed to direct students to Wake Forest’s mental health resources, began student-led training on Saturday, Jan. 28. 

We are Wake functions as an intermediate step between wanting and receiving help by providing students with the ability to find assistance for themselves or their peers. The initiative, which was introduced to students at a Jan. 24 kick-off event, was created to strengthen the university’s support system for students experiencing distress. 

Assistant Vice President of Health and Wellbeing within the Division of Campus Life Dr. Warrenetta Mann described how each member of the Wake Forest community can change the narrative surrounding student mental health. 

“The We are Wake campaign emphasizes how, when it comes to mental health on campus, we all play a role,” Mann said.

Mann, one of the leaders of the new initiative, shared her optimism about the student training. She highlighted how many felt isolated during the COVID-19 pandemic and that the 90-minute training provides opportunities for connection and community.

“Our training is like ‘Care 101’ to get us back in the practice of caring for each other” Mann said. 

Thus student-led training will provide students with the valuable opportunity to lead each other. 

“It’s going to be peer-led training,” Mann said. “There are students that are going through that training now to be able to do it with other students.”

The program will give students tools that will help them recognize signs of distress and intervene when needed. Students will finish training with extensive knowledge of Wake Forest’s resources, which will allow them to direct their peers toward further assistance. Candice Epps Jackson, associate dean of students for community response and caring outreach, especially valued this part of the initiative. 

“Students are training other students, and they are getting messages about positive help-seeking behaviors, de-stigmatizing mental health, our support resources on campus and really hearing over and over again that Wake Forest is a caring place,” Jackson said.

In Fall 2023, We are Wake will also launch its next phase: a 24/7 hour phone line that will be managed by a Wake Forest staff member. This phone line will give students easy access to trained staff who can direct them to campus resources. Jackson pointed out that, as a community, Wake Forest must focus on elevating our consciousness of care. The 24/7 phone line will help the university expand its reach and ability to assist more students. 

“We have got to reach a lot of community members, and it starts with our students,” Jackson said.  

Correction Feb. 3: This story has been corrected to reflect that Dr. Warrenetta Mann is an assistant vice president.