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Duluth High Schools Supporting Students with New Mental Health Program

Alejandra Palacios
Updated: December 18, 2019 07:04 PM

Duluth high schools are focusing on addressing mental health with a new program that creates a positive environment for students to support one another.

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The program is called Sources of Strength. It's a national evidence based suicide prevention program that uses peer leaders and positive methods to address and bring awareness to mental health.

Duluth East and Denfeld just incorporated it into the district this year and they're hoping it continues to grow.

It brings a lot of like awareness to mental health, and as we all know mental health is a big issue in society these days," said Will Hoeksema, a sophomore at Duluth East.

The program creates an environment for students and teachers to have open communication with one another. Students are elected by teachers to be peer leaders. They meet weekly and create mental health campaigns to spread throughout the school and community.

"When I found out that this was a program, I dived in because I really just loved the idea of having a program dedicated to maintaining and improving the mental health of our students and our staff," said Shanze Hayee, a senior at Duluth East.

Students get to know one another with fun games and activities they do as a team.

Students and teachers put the Sources of Strength Wheel into practice. It's a colorful chart that has different strengths that students identify with and work on to help one another. The wheel includes mental health, family support, positive friends, mentors, healthy activities, generosity, spirituality, and medical access.

"This is so important. A lot of suicide prevention programs are very adult based and it's very trauma based and this one we let the kids take the lead. It's very student led and we focus on the positives," said Katrina Thompson, the Sources of Strength coordinator for ISD 709.

The program embraces peer social networks, promote connections, and incorporates multiple sources of support for mental health.

"It's my first year in the program and it's really, really fun. It brings a lot of joy to my day, said Hoeksema.

During their weekly meeting Wednesday, students made posters with positive messages to help students cope with stress. Although the program just started this year, students and teachers say they’ve seen the difference it’s made in strengthening one another.

"It has helped us see all the different sources of strength within our own lives, especially with the training that we went through and learning about all these different things that have helped people over the years," said Hayee.

"A lot of the teachers and a lot of the kids will say that it's a wonderful program and they show up all the time. They keep coming back and they have huge smiles on their faces," said Thompson.

To learn more on the program, click here.

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Alejandra Palacios

Copyright 2019 WDIO-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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