When it comes to student 压力 and mental health, this school year has been worse than 2020-21, according to Kevin Rohlfs, principal of Bellevue West High School in the suburbs of Omaha, 内布拉斯加州. Unfortunately, it’s a common theme lately for school leaders.

Now that the newness of returning to school has worn off, 压力 levels are high and struggling students are reacting.

To address the issue at Bellevue West, in 2017 students formed a “希望球队” to provide peer-to-peer support to classmates who are considering committing suicide or otherwise harming themselves. 他们的地区, Bellevue Public Schools, had been rocked by a number of suicides in the previous years, and after each incident, students wanted to know how they could help prevent future tragedies.

Part of a national network, 希望球队 trains students on how to connect with young people in di压力 and then seek assistance from an adult. The student body chooses the squad’s members by listing the students to whom they would turn in a time of crisis.

The club holds regular activities, such as an ugly sweater contest, and outreach efforts, setting up tables where students get information about coping with anxiety, depression and 压力.

Breaking a suicide cycle

关于 7 in 10 young people who take their lives tell a friend, but the friend doesn’t tell an adult, 统计数据显示. The goal of 希望球队 is to break that cycle, end the silence and reduce the stigma about mental health on campus.

The first element of the group’s three-step suicide prevention model is training all school staff in the “QPR method,” which stands for question, 说服, 请参考.

The second step is partnering with community members and organizations, 包括市长, 市议会, chambers of commerce and mental health agencies, 等, to understand the scope of the problem and provide support for each other.

The final step is establishing 希望球队s in individual schools. 大约1,100 schools now have chapters that have helped around 10,000 students access mental health care.

Building the resiliency muscle

The conversation around suicide and emotional well-being has been destigmatized since Wisconsin’s Elmbrook Schools launched a 希望球队, according to Tanya L. Fredrich, assistant superintendent of teaching and learning.

A series of student suicides in her district in 2015 sparked community-wide discussions about student mental health and resiliency. “Kids weren’t surprised their peers were struggling, but parents had misconceptions about mental health and suicide ideations, and they didn’t have good information about how to interact with someone having thoughts of harming themselves,“费迪李希 told District Administration.

The district chose 希望球队 as a solution because of widespread research showing that although students in di压力 are most likely to talk to their peers, those kids are not equipped to handle the problem on their own, 她说.

The training the comes along with 希望球队 has dispelled the myth that talking about suicide can give students ideas about harming themselves. “We have destigmatized the conversation between families, students and staff around behavioral health,她说。. “We have more people willing to ask questions because they know they have a route to get somebody to support.”

The presence of the organization, along with an expansion of school-based therapy, is also helping the district confront rising anxiety, 压力, depression and other issues students are dealing with.