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Peer-To-Peer Depression Awareness Campaign: 2010-2011

Six teams of approximately 4-6 students each, from Community, Greenhills, Huron,  Roberto Clemente, Skyline, and Stone High Schools, were selected by their teachers and counselors to attend an educational conference at the Depression Center on October 22, 2010. The students participated in educational presentations in the morning to improve their knowledge of depressive illnesses, and learn more about the interactions between mental health, sleep, exercise, and substance use. This was followed by breakout sessions in the afternoon where the student teams worked with facilitators to discuss what they had learned, and brainstormed ideas for how they could use this knowledge to develop public awareness campaigns for their schools.

Student participants were also asked several questions to gauge their knowledge of depression, perceived stigma associated with depression, and likelihood of help-seeking, both before the opening conference and immediately following the conference. Analyses of responses indicated that the 2010-2011 P2P opening conference resulted in increases in depression literacy, decreases in depression stigma, and increases in willingness to seek help from some sources.

With assistance from faculty mentors at each school, each team submitted a plan for their Peer-to-Peer project in early December 2010, and then began implementing their campaigns in January –May 2011. All six high schools completed the project. Below are summaries of each school’s activities.

Community High School: “Depression Doesn’t Have to Define You”

Community High’s Peer-to-Peer Campaign consisted of four main components:

  • Student-made videos shown during lunch hour each Friday in March, which they designated as Mental Health Awareness Month
    • What is depression?
    • How do you know when someone is depressed?
    • How do you treat depression?
  • “More Than Sad” video shown in all forum classes, followed by a facilitated discussion led by “forum leaders” (teachers in classes similar to a homeroom)
  • Celebrity posters with the slogan “Depression Doesn’t Have to Define You”
  • T-shirts, pencils and fortune cookies with mental health-messaging.

Greenhills High School: “Speak Up When You’re Feeling Down”

The Greenhills Peer-to-Peer group focused on increasing awareness of their group, and implementing their campaign around the school. 

  • The team members identified their group by creating and wearing colorful t-shirts with the slogan “Speak Up When You’re Feeling Down”
  • They created two different posters which were placed around the school:  one depicting celebrities, and one with the message that it’s not weak to ask for help
  • They organized two informational assemblies
    • Dr. Jorge Lopez of the U-M Sleep and Chronophysiology Lab was invited to speak about connections between sleep and depression
    • The P2P team presented information on stress and depression, and how to tell the difference between everyday stress and something more serious.

Huron High School: “Ask Me”

The Huron High Peer-to-Peer group spread their message by developing and presenting a well-planned lesson to sophomore health classes:

  • Activities included agree/disagree, true/false, and art exercises used to generate discussion
  • A video created by the student team, featuring fellow students expressing their thoughts about depression (i.e. what is depression, what would you do if you thought a friend had depression) was shown in the health classes
  • The team created t-shirts identifying themselves as P2P members, with the slogan “Ask Me”

Roberto Clemente Student Development Center: “D2: Defeat Depression”

The Clemente student team organized an all-school presentation on depression in African American adolescents during one of their weekly “rap sessions” (a weekly discussion forum attended by all students and staff ):

  • The P2P students began the presentation by asking their peers questions about depression, to initiate a dialogue
  • Bianca Burch, a social worker in the U-M Department of Psychiatry, spoke about depression and how it can affect African American youth
  • Two University of Michigan students spoke about their personal experiences with depression that began in high school
  • The team created t-shirts and posters with their slogan, D2: Defeat Depression

Skyline High School: “Stigma Hurts, Awareness Helps”

The Skyline Peer-to-Peer student team created daily announcements for one week that were heard by the entire student body, focusing on:

  • Importance of mental health
  • Teens and depression
  • Teens and substance use
  • Importance of sleep
  • Resources and how to get help
  • The group also recruited 11 new students for next year’s P2P team, and created student leadership positions for their team

Stone High School Youth Advisory Council (YAC): “Make a Confession to Beat Depression”

The Stone Youth Advisory Council (YAC) Peer-to-Peer team hosted two, 60-minute programs for approximately 51 students (25-26 in each session) during their “seminar” class period, to increase awareness of adolescent depression and its symptoms, and reduce the stigma of seeking help.  The program included:

  • An interactive True/False activity, in which students had to move to different sides of the room to answer questions about depression.  These questions included information about symptoms, help seeking and treatment, and statistics.
  • A panel of two young women talked about their personal experiences with depression in their high school and college years, including symptoms they experienced, how they reached out for help, what help they received, and the response of their loved ones.
  • A Question/Answer session in which students could direct questions to the panel and the clinical social worker and nurse practitioner from the RAHS (Regional Alliance for Healthy Schools) Health Center.  Students could ask questions by raising their hands or by anonymous written questions
  • A conclusion in which the themes were summarized and information was given about how to get help.


Based on ideas initially developed at the 2008 Depression Center Membership Retreat, the P2P Depression Awareness Project has become part of an ongoing collaboration between the UMDC and the AAPS. Financial and administrative support from the Depression Center Innovation Fund, Community Volunteer Committee, and  MICHR (Michigan Institute for Clinical Research) have allowed us to obtain data showing that the P2P Project has measurable short-term effects on depression knowledge, stigma, and willingness to seek help for mental health problems.
The Depression Center members who organized this effort continue to feel that the Peer-to-Peer Depression Awareness Campaign is successful, and we would like to continue the program next year in collaboration with the Ann Arbor Public Schools.

U-M Depression Center Peer-to-Peer Depression Awareness Campaign Implementation Committee: Jim Cranford, Jennie Jester, Kris Konz, Anne Kramer, Trish Meyer, Stephanie Salazar.

Peer-to-Peer Depression Awareness Campaign AAPS Staff Mentors: Kathleen Ardan, Diane Grant, Kristin Mahler, Tiffany Moore, Claudia Siewert, Robbie Stapleton, Robyn Watson, Kenitra Webster, Kip Wilson.