Seity Team
Wellness app allows Hughson staff, students to perform daily self-assessment

Beginning this school year, Hughson Unified’s sixth- through 12th-grade students now have access to a mind and wellness app that has been available to staff members for the past 18 months.

The voluntary program allows participants to identify four core values that are unique to them from a range of about 70 choices.

“The theory is that if you’re living through the core values you’ve identified, then you’ll have more energy, direction, a sense of belonging and joy,” said Eric Petersen, Hughson’s director of student support services.

The app is offered by Seity Healthcare, a Turlock-based company that works with many different organizations and school districts on wellness initiatives. Petersen and Hughson officials learned of it through the Stanislaus County Office of Education a couple of years ago, then promoted it to staff only during training sessions.

Physicians, psychologists, educators, artists and a host of other multidisciplinary experts created the app. Here’s how it works:

Beginning users spend five to seven minutes online to complete their self-assessments. Then once a day, participants check in via the app and evaluate how they’re feeling. Depending on the response, users who are having a bad day will receive an email from Seity with suggestions about resources that are available to help. The responses are confidential; employers are not notified.

Seity claims the self-assessment is reliable 91% of the time and Petersen believes it – not just for himself, but for his eighth-grade daughter, who filled it out in August.

“No one knows her better than me,” said Petersen, “and this just nailed her.”

As of this month, 148 staff members participate, a number that has slowly grown since the app was rolled out to them in January 2022.

“Some have said that it’s not for me, which is fine, and then as the semester goes along and their friends do it, they reconsider,” Petersen said of some staff members.

Students must be at least 12 years old to join the program. So far, 756 of the roughly 1,450 children who are eligible have completed a self-assessment and are participating most days.

Privacy is one of the main concerns expressed by parents, students and staff about the app. Seity generates various dashboards showing the district’s overall well-being score based on the daily self-assessments. For instance, district officials can view group results that show how the staff is feeling on a particular day and see charts of trend lines over weeks and months. No personal data is available. Once a month, a random drawing awards a prize to a staff member who has been checking in.

“We have promised staff that it is anonymous and it is.  We do not publish the data trends,” explained Superintendent Brenda Smith. “I can't see the responses or even know who has signed up. We did not do this to keep an eye on our staff, but to provide those who were interested access to a healthy lifestyle and wellness opportunity.”

The same privacy safeguards are in place for students, with one exception, Petersen said. When students fill out their daily self-assessment – typically, in their home room during first period – one of five colored icons will be generated to reflect their response that day. One of those is red, which signifies that the student may be concerned, worried or troubled by something. That icon shows up on the home room teacher’s screen next to that student’s name, alerting the instructor to privately reach out to the child after class to ask about what’s wrong and to see if they want to talk.

Smith said the Seity app is intended to be just one piece in a range of wellness and mental health services available to staff and students.

“This is a resource for our staff and students that is there for those who wish to participate,” she said. “The staff can receive support if they are having a rough time and it is completely anonymous. There is a section about total health and living your core values to help support a healthy lifestyle focusing on wellness.  For our students, it is a way for them to check in and give our teachers a heads up if they are struggling or having a bad day so they can have the opportunity to check in with them and get additional support for the student if needed.”

Petersen invites staff members or students with questions about the Seity app to contact him in the district office.