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Jewel, who tried to help friend Tony Hsieh, launches mental health challenge


The music of Jewel is known worldwide. Over some 30 years, she’s sold more than 30 million albums with songs such as, “You Were Meant For Me.”

Fewer know Jewel for her many philanthropic efforts to help the underprivileged, from the homeless to those with mental health issues. After her biography, Never Broken, came out in 2016, she created a website and program of the same name with lessons on mindfulness and more.

Jewel was also a friend of the late Zappos founder, Tony Hsieh, who helped revitalize downtown Las Vegas. As recently as 2017, Jewel and Hsieh collaborated on the “Jewel Whole Human Project.” The idea was to create methods for employees to create a better work-life balance and overall harmony in their lives.

After Hsieh died two years ago, suffering from what seemed to be mental illness, many watched her emotional tribute to Hsieh on YouTube or read her note to Hsieh before his death, warning him that he appeared to need help.

Now, with her Las Vegas-based nonprofit, the Inspiring Children Foundation, and in partnership with the iHeart Radio network, Jewel is part of a project to raise awareness about mental health issues during the holiday season. It will also raise money to help fund mental health access for those who can’t afford it. It’s called the #NotAloneChallenge.


On emerging from her troubling childhood

I set off to learn if happiness was a learnable skill, and was it a teachable skill. And I, because I was a writer, began to take notes, and over time began to develop exercises, because I learned pretty young that behavior drives life. And could I change my behaviors? And how could I change them and what kind of changes what I see in my life? Over time, these tools and skills began to be looked at by people in the psychiatric field field. And thanks to neuroplasticity, we know that basically, behavioral tools work, very similar to what I developed for myself, too ... And then I met Ryan and realized he was doing the same thing I was doing; he also intuitively started looking at his behaviors, changing behaviors. And as we began to study mental health, mindfulness, get an education and all kinds of things.

On the death of Hsieh and others

Everybody is different. I think what we're seeing with the passing of DJ Twitch, people can be suffering and you may not be aware of it, even if you're their spouse, I think the most important thing we can do is make sure that we are really talking to our friends to our loved ones. I do find that in celebrity circles or industries where there's celebrity or great power, people seem to get a little more afraid or intimidated to bring things up, which obviously, I don't think benefits anyone. And I think that we should always, no matter what, no matter how brilliant or talented we feel somebody is, make sure that they're doing okay.

On practicing mindfulness

Mindfulness is definitely a word that gets thrown around a lot. So my definition is 'conscious presence.' When you're mindful, it just means that you're consciously present. And you start to realize how much of our day we're not actually consciously present for ... our brain has a tremendous ability to perform while it's also distracted. ... It's like going to the gym to learn consciously, being present in the present moment. And that's what meditation is for. It really builds this bicep curl, like going to the gym, so that you can learn to be consciously present for longer and longer periods of time. ... But it wasn't giving me the significant amount of change in my life. And that's when I personally began to focus on behavior. Now that I'm present, I just am noticing I'm really anxious. Now, what do I want to do about it? How do I get my anxiety to change now that I'm aware of it? And so at the foundation, that's what we really teach kids to do is to meditate, learn to get present. And then to start deciding what areas do you want to start working on.

More about the #NotAloneChallenge

This season, iconic singer-songwriter & mental health advocate Jewel launched a social media campaign for her #NotAloneChallenge to raise awareness and funds to make mental health resources more widely available to those in need, and to make people feel less alone around the holidays. Thus far, we have auction items including everyone from Billie Eilish to Andrea Bocelli, social posts from Kelly Clarkson, Kris Jenner, Frankie Grande, Mayim Bialik, Hunter Hayes, Melissa Riversand more. For additional information and auction items, visit

For nearly twenty years, Jewel has worked alongside the Inspiring Children Foundation to help at-risk youth gain access to mental health tools. The goal of #NotAlone is to raise funds to scale these tools digitally to make them more widely available. We're aiming to reach audiences of all backgrounds, as this initiative is a non-partisan issue that affects us all.

Jewel is a passionate mental-health advocate who struggled through a period of homelessness as a teenager. The story of her being homeless before her meteoric rise to success is very well documented, however the personal mental health side of it has inspired a lifelong commitment to help other kids who are dealing with mental health challenges.

If you would like to participate in the challenge, see social assets here for easy access. You can also share your personal journey with mental health in a short video on IG, tag #NotAloneChallenge, @InspiringChildren, @Jewel, and challenge two friends. See Jewel's launch video here; and they also have an auction (here), where Jewel is offering to write a custom song for the top bidder.

Guests: Jewel, singer; Ryan Wolfington, co-founder, Inspiring Children Foundation

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Joe Schoenmann joined Nevada Public Radio in 2014. He works with a talented team of producers at State of Nevada who explore the casino industry, sports, politics, public health and everything in between.
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