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Peer-To-Peer Depression Awareness Campaign: 2014-2015 School Year

For the 2014-2015 Peer-to-Peer Project, eight teams of approximately 5-20 students each from Community, Huron, Lincoln, Milan, Pathways to Success, Pioneer, Saline, and Skyline High Schools were selected by their teachers and counselors to attend an educational conference at the Depression Center on October 30th, 2014. 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, academic stress, and coping skills. This was followed by breakout sessions in the afternoon where the student teams worked with facilitators to gain an understanding of specific strategies for supporting peers and practical strategies for planning an effective awareness campaign.

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 2014, and then began implementing their campaigns in January–May 2015. Below are summaries of each school’s activities.

Community High School

“Stigma Hurts, Awareness Helps”

  • March was Depression Awareness Month.
  • Slogan: Stigma Hurts, Awareness Helps.
  • Bulletin board display with photos of P2P team members.
  • Colorful posters with helpful mental health messages posted around the school.
  • Video featuring students and teacher talking about their experiences with mental illness.
  • Presentation of video to all CHS students, accompanied by a panel discussion with P2P team members who were featured in the video.
  • Wristbands with “Stigma Hurts, Awareness Helps” distributed during the video and panel discussion presentation.
  • Expanded their awareness campaign beyond depression, to include a wider range of mental illnesses.

Huron High School

"Out of the Blue, Into the Bright"

  • P2P team members wore their t-shirts every Monday and Wednesday.
  • Gave depression awareness presentations in the Psychology, Health and Peer Leader classes.
  • Made glow-in-the-dark bracelets that said “Out of the Blue, Into the Bright” which were distributed to students.
  • Held a poetry competition – many students wrote poems describing their feelings of experiencing a depressive illness.
  • During one designated week, the P2P students had tables outside of the cafeteria during lunchtime where they showed the Athletes Connected stigma reduction videos and distributed bracelets and resource lists. The football coach stopped by the tables and stayed for awhile to learn about the P2P program – at the end he asked if the P2P students would present to the football team.

Lincoln High School

"When in Doubt, Talk it Out"

  • Established leadership roles for their P2P team.
  • Will Heininger gave presentations to 3 health classes discussing his personal experience. The P2P team members shared information about the program during these presentations.
  • Made bracelets with the slogan, “When in Doubt, Talk it Out” which were distributed to students.

Milan High School

"Depression is an Illness, Not a Character Flaw"

  • Created a depression awareness video which was posted on the school website, along with general information
    about the P2P program and resources, in order to share this information with the greater community.
  • Slogan: Depression is an illness, not a character flaw.
  • All art classes created artwork for an exhibit, visually conveying how it feels to have depression, as well as posters with statistics about mental illness.
  • Created bracelets with “Depression is an illness, not a character flaw” in five different colors – each color represented a different symptom of depression.
  • Will Heininger gave a presentation for the entire school, discussing his personal experience with depression. Many students reached out to counselors following Will’s presentation.
  • Corner Health Theatre Troupe presented a mental health sketch and interactive presentation for a group of about 20 students.

Pathways to Success

"Don’t Be Silenced By Depression"

  • Slogan: Don’t be silenced by depression.
  • Created bracelets with this slogan which were distributed to all students.
  • Will Heininger came to speak to the entire school about his experience with depression, and to encourage help seeking. Following the presentation, information on support resources were distributed to everyone.

Pioneer High School

"Speak Out, Don’t Grind It Out"

  • Slogan: Speak Out, Don’t Grind It Out.
  • Will Heininger gave a presentation to the staff to “pave the way” for them to sign up for P2P student presentations in their classes.
  • P2P team members gave a PowerPoint presentation to different classes. Shared information about mental health (e.g., nutrition, sleep and exercise can be beneficial for positive mental health) and school support resources.
  • Had a “referral box” where students could fill out a form if they were concerned about a friend, which was checked by the school counselors for follow-up. Over 30 students were referred to counseling in this manner.
  • Distributed fortune cookies with positive mental health messages.
  • Distributed bracelets with “Speak Out, Don’t Grind It Out.”
  • P2P team members wore shirts twice a month to raise awareness of the group.
  • Created a bulletin board with P2P team photos and posters.

Saline High School

" P2P Depression Awareness: Now is the Time to Educate and Reduce Stigma"

  • Presentation to all juniors featuring a speaker who discussed her personal experience with depression.
  • Created pens with slogan: P2P Depression Awareness. Now is the Time to Educate and Reduce Stigma
  • Corner Health Theatre Troupe presented a mental health sketch and interactive presentation for all freshman and sophomore students.
  • Screened the film “Race to Nowhere” for students and parents, to illustrate how depression affects everyone in the family.

Skyline High School

"Depression: A Fight No One Can Handle Alone!"

  • Created a video to let parents know what they can do to support their child’s mental health.
  • The video was shown at a presentation for parents held at Forsythe middle school (which feeds into Skyline), followed by a discussion with the P2P student team members. Over 40 parents attended the event, and they had many questions for the student panelists.
  • Created magnets with the slogan “Depression: A Fight No One Can Handle Alone!” and put them on every locker in the school.
  • Wore t-shirts with their slogan on the front and a listing of resources on the back to spread awareness.
  • Held bi-monthly student workshops focused on depression/anxiety and practical interventions. These workshops were led by professional school staff and featured informational presentations by the P2P team members.