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Peer-To-Peer Depression Awareness Campaign: 2011-2012

For the 2011-2012 Peer-to-Peer Project, seven teams of approximately 5-10 students each from Ann Arbor Technological, Community, Huron, Pioneer, Roberto Clemente, and Skyline High Schools, as well as Saline High School, were selected by their teachers and counselors to attend an educational conference at the Depression Center on October 27th, 2011. 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, stigma, sleep, and substance use. This was followed by breakout sessions in the afternoon where the student teams worked with facilitators to gain an understanding of social marketing strategies, active listening skills, and other peer support resources. These afternoon sessions were a new addition to the conference this year, based on feedback from previous participants who expressed an interest in more interactive, skill-based sessions. 

Student participants were also surveyed 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 from the 2010-2011 P2P opening conference indicated that the conference resulted in increases in depression literacy, decreases in depression stigma, and increases in willingness to seek help from some sources. We are currently analyzing data from the 2011-2012 conference and anticipate similar findings. In addition, we will look at follow-up surveys to see if potential changes a) informed the development of effective depression awareness campaigns and b) were maintained over the course of the 2011-2012 academic year.

Following the opening conference and with assistance from faculty mentors at each school, each team submitted a plan for their Peer-to-Peer project in early December 2011, and then began implementing their campaigns in January–May 2012. All seven high schools completed the project. Below are summaries of each school’s activities.

Ann Arbor Technological High School: “Depressed? Ask Me!”

The Ann Arbor Tech Youth Advisory Council (YAC) Peer-to-Peer team’s campaign included several components in order to reach the maximum number of their peers in a variety of ways.

  • A student-made video “commercial” played during lunch hour, focusing on how Ann Arbor Tech students can be affected by depression, even though they don’t often see themselves represented in traditional depression commercials. This was accompanied by a PowerPoint presentation with depression facts and resources.
  • Created team t-shirts with the slogan, “Depressed? Ask Me!”
  • Designed posters with various depression facts and resources.
  • Conducted a “What Helps/What Hurts” activity focused on peer support strategies during an all-school assembly.

Community High School: “Stigma Hurts, Awareness Helps”

Community High’s Peer-to-Peer Team designated April as “Depression Awareness Month” at their school and conducted several activities during that time.

  • Wrote a mental health-focused educational theater sketch which they performed three times, followed by facilitated classroom discussions.
  • Distributed bracelets to the entire school with the slogan, “Stigma Hurts. Awareness Helps.”
  • Created a bulletin board with a P2P group photo and rotating mental health messages that were also placed in the Forum Bulletin (Community High’s version of announcements).
  • Created team sweatshirts which were worn every Friday in April.
  • Designed a banner for one of the main hallways stating: “Community High School Depression Awareness Month. Stigma Hurts, Awareness Helps.”

Huron High School: “No One Should Be Left in the Dark”

The Huron High Peer-to-Peer group spread their message via various components:

  • Produced a video illustrating the symptoms of depression and how to get help.
  • Created a display case in one of the main hallways, including a television which played the video on a repeating loop. This was surrounded by a bulletin board with depression facts, symptoms, and resources.
  • Made glow-in-the-dark bracelets with the slogan, “No One Should be Left in the Dark.”
  • Created a lesson plan for sophomore health classes:
  • Anne Kramer from the Depression Center presented an overview of depression causes, symptoms, and treatment.
  • Other activities were led by the P2P team members and included several group activities, a discussion of their video, and “quiz” for prizes.

Pioneer High School: “Depression is Real, Hope is Real 2.”

The Pioneer team’s campaign focused on classroom presentations to spread their message.

  • Began in February with brief presentations to all class assemblies to introduce themselves as a group and explain the purpose of the project.
  • Created a display case in one of the main school hallways with photos of all P2P team members in their t-shirts featuring the slogan, “Depression is Real, Hope is Real 2.”
  • Produced a video which asked Pioneer students for their thoughts about depression, then provided facts and helpful resources.
  • In April, the team gave formal presentations to class assemblies in which they facilitated activities, played the student video, and distributed wallet-sized cards with resource information.

Roberto Clemente Student Development Center

The Clemente P2P student team organized an all-school presentation on depression during one of their weekly “rap sessions” (a weekly discussion forum attended by all students and staff ). The P2P students:

  • Developed and presented a PowerPoint presentation which gave an overview of depression, with support from Mary Gass from the Depression Center.
  • Facilitated an audience participation quiz with prizes.
  • Wrote and performed a mental health-focused educational theater sketch.
  • Created team t-shirts with “P2P @ Clemente.”

Saline High School: “A.S.K. M.E.”

Saline’s campaign focused on the idea that anyone can have depression, and demonstrated how it can influence their lives.

  • Created posters with depression facts, data, and expression of the group’s name and purpose.
  • P2P team designed t-shirts with their slogan, “A.S.K. M.E: Accomplishing Students’ Knowledge of Mind and Environment”
  • Produced a student video depicting the mental health stressors which can build throughout the school day, and demonstrating the resources that are available for students. The video played for all 5th hour classrooms.

Skyline High School: “It’s a R.E.A.L. R.A.C.E.”

The Skyline Peer-to-Peer student team’s primary campaign component was a video that was played during all Skytime classes, followed by a lesson plan accompanied by a handout with information on support resources.

  • Created a video by collecting note cards from their peers, after asking them to write a sentence about their previous experiences with depression (either their own depression, or that of a friend or family member).
  • A student-staffed informational table during lunch period also reached hundreds of students.
  • Distributed bracelets with their slogan, “It’s a R.E.A.L. R.A.C.E.” (Recognize there is a problem; Educate others; Ask for help; Lend a hand; Recreational activities; Attitude; Community; Extracurricular activities).


Based on ideas initially developed at the 2008 Depression Center Membership Retreat, the P2P Depression Awareness Project has now 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 kick-off conference has measurable short-term effects for P2P team members on depression knowledge, stigma reduction, and willingness to seek help for mental health problems.

In addition, data from surveys collected during 2010-2011 program from randomly selected students at each school indicated that the P2P campaigns were associated with 1) decreases in depression-related stigma; 2) increases in willingness to seek help from mental health counselors; and 3) increases in willingness to seek help from teachers. While these results varied somewhat from school to school, we were encouraged by this preliminary data and in future years hope to explore additional questions related to positive changes in school climate and students’ sense of connectedness.

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, as well as other schools within the Washtenaw Intermediate School District.

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

Peer-to-Peer Depression Awareness Campaign Staff Mentors: Kathleen Ardan, Janet Baublis, Anne Bezeau, Bryan Bruckman (Saline), Colleen Creal, Kathy Diehl, Kristin Mahler, Cathy Malette, Lydia McBurrows, Amy McLoughlin, Jason Pickett (Saline), Wendy Reinhardt, Robbie Stapleton, Robyn Watson, Kip Wilson.