Peer-to-Peer Depression Awareness Campaign: 2018-19 School Year
A collaboration between the U-M Depression Center and Washtenaw County High Schools
In 2007, the University of Michigan Depression Center and Ann Arbor Public Schools (AAPS) began a collaboration to provide depression awareness and suicide prevention education, training, and support for AAPS personnel. Beginning in fall 2009, a student education component was added to the mental health initiative called the Peer-to-Peer Depression Awareness Campaign (P2P).
The goals of the Peer-to-Peer Depression Awareness Campaign are to:
1) educate high school students about depression, anxiety, and related illnesses and
2) support them in finding creative ways to convey this knowledge to their peers in order to reduce stigma, raise awareness, encourage help-seeking when needed, and ultimately, help to promote the early detection of depression, bipolar disorder, and related illnesses.
Interest in the program continues to grow as P2P enters its second decade, with the number of participating schools increasing from five Ann Arbor high schools in 2009, to 16 high schools and 11 middle schools throughout Washtenaw County in the 2018-19 academic year.
2018-19 Participating High Schools
“What’s your common thread?”
- 1st year in P2P Program
- Built campaign on the momentum of a recent initiative, #whyyoumatter
- Held school-wide EdTalk assembly in January. Four speakers, including invited guests, teachers, and counselors, gave 10 minute speeches about mental health and finding connection. Topics included depression, empathy, judgement, friendship, self-care, and the power of helping others. After the assembly students returned to their classroom and participated in facilitated discussion/reflection groups.
- Facilitated a follow-up lesson plan about how we are all connected
- School-wide string art project was conducted to visually represent the connection between students
- Created and distributed stickers with local mental health resources
“Stigma Hurts. Awareness Helps.”
- Conducted four panel presentations with Q&A that 500 students attended. Panelists included a high school student, college student, and teacher
- Created 10 bulletin messages that would be read during forum (homeroom) twice a week for five weeks. Bulletin messages focused on facts, conversation starters, self-care strategies, and mental health resources
- Conducted forum presentations where they expanded on bulletin messages and showed the Seize the Awkward video
- Created Depression Awareness Group Instagram account (@chsdag) generating 145 follows and 106 messages to expand their reach to social media
- Spotlighted each of the Depression Awareness Group members in an “about me” post
- Raffled off gift card at the end of their campaign to a student who followed their account and commented on something they learned from the campaign this year
- Decorated school bulletin board with pictures of P2P Members, mental health posters, and a resource sheet
- Partnered with social theatre collective to do four shows that touched on motivational interviewing, mental health, and drug abuse through theater presentations
- Created eight new posters that were hung all over school
- Created four stress buster events: yoga, jitter bug, bubbles, and dum dums with messages of hope
- Created two laptop sticker designs and passed out two stickers to each student
- Designed permanent hallway mural celebration program’s 10-year anniversary
“It’s okay to not be okay. Reach out!”
- First year participating in Peer to Peer program
- Designed lanyards with campaign slogan, “It’s okay to not be okay. Reach out!”
- Visited 4th hour classes to introduce P2P, share depression facts and resources, as well as hand out lanyards
- Created messages of hope bulletin board with paper hearts of positive mental health messages that students can take. Students can also write a message of their own. The bulletin board also had their campaign slogan and a list of mental health resources.
“Know Science – no stigma”
- Organized student mental health assembly featuring three students sharing their personal experiences with depression, anxiety, and suicide through spoken word, poems, or song.
- Planned and held a Parent Education Night for Mental Health. Dr. Harry Rai, a psychiatrist from the UM Depression Center, headlined the evening
- Created video showcasing what the peer lab is, students part of the peer lab, and counselors you can go to for help
- Gave away stickers students designed with their slogan on it
- Visited Health classes to present to peers on Depression & Anxiety
“Think in Color”
- Organized an ethnically and socially diverse group of students to reach as many of their peers as possible
- Created and distributed rainbow-colored wristbands and stress balls with their slogan, “Think in Color.” The slogan refers to a common human cognitive tendency, ‘Thinking in black and white,’ a distortion our brains actually prefer, evolutionarily, because it saves energy to not have to consider multiple possibilities. It served as a reminder to see things on a spectrum instead of making them binary, i.e. “Good” OR “Bad.”
- Distributed stickers with mental health resources
- Distributed business cards with their slogan “Think in Color” paired with mental health resources
- Passed out stress relieving keychains
- Self-Care Week – During exam weeks, the P2P Team had hot cocoa available for students during the breaks. On the cups were positive words/phrases related to the importance of self-care, along with signs listing support resources within the school.
- Offered free yoga from a certified yoga instructor to all students every day after school during exam week
- Mental Health Assembly - On February 8, 2019, Jeff Olsen from the “Do It For Daniel” campaign presented at Manchester, speaking with students about depression, anxiety, and suicide prevention.
- Flowergrams – Students were able purchase flowers for one another (anonymously) with words of encouragement and positive statements
- Messages of Support – Students placed mental health messaging and resources around the school via colorful posters and writing with mirror markers in bathrooms.
- Posters displayed around the school about signs and symptoms of depression and anxiety, how to help a friend, and healthy coping skills
“With CommUNITY Comes Peace, With Hardship Comes Ease”
- First year participating in P2P Program
- Hot Cocoa and Discussion – hosted small get-togethers for students during lunch time on specified dates, in which students could come in, grab a cup of hot cocoa and a snack (cookies, brownies), and engage in a discussion about mental health.
- Fundraising Dinner - The school hosted a fundraising dinner, where the P2P members presented to the parents. The group performed a skit, and invited a guest speaker from the P2P Kickoff Conference. The event helped raise awareness and decrease stigma within the parent community
- Poetry Slam – In February, the P2P club hosted a poetry slam. Students could send in their poems anonymously or read them aloud themselves. Following the poems, all the students were encouraged to participate in a discussion about the poetry.
- Staff Meeting – The P2P students, along with their staff mentors, spoke about their mental health campaign and what they hoped to accomplish. Teachers were taught how to notice when students need help, how to engage that help, and how to warmly hand the student off to the mental health professional or care provider.
- 5th Grade Presentations – Presented to 5th graders about physical and emotional regulation. The school is hoping to establish something ongoing for the 5th graders, since they aren’t eligible for P2P until they reach 6th grade.
- Posters displayed around the school with their slogan and resources
“Where there's help, there's hope!””
- Created and distributed Stress Bags the week leading up to SATs, in conjunction with the school’s LifeSavers Group, a suicide prevention and awareness group for students. Stress bags contained fidget toys, coloring pages, and colored pencils
- Worked with art students to create mental health posters
- Held bake sale to raise funds for P2P
“You don’t have to be sick to get better”
- Designed and painted massive Mental Health mural on school wall
- Message reads: “You don’t have to be sick to get better”
- Displayed Mental Health posters throughout the school.
- Messaging included how to seek help, normalizing, positive coping skills, and signs & symptoms
- Wore P2P T-Shirts regularly to increase awareness amongst fellow students
“Self-Care isn’t Selfish”
- Attended staff meeting to help teachers and administrators better understand student stress, and how it relates to mental health issues
- Presented to 9th and 10th graders about Depression, Anxiety, and Mental Health
- Offered lunch circle for students to discuss best self-care methods
- Distributed wristbands with slogan “Self-care isn’t Selfish”
- Created posters with slogan and posters with tear-off sheets that had resources
- Decorated display case in school hallway to show P2P Members and mental health resources
- Made suggestions to administration about spreading out testing
“Don’t Hide Out, Speak Out ”
- Over the course of the year distributed stress balls and wristbands with their slogan
- Gave a supply of pencils with their slogan to every teacher, to hand out when students needed them
- Displayed posters about depression, anxiety, how to help a friend, and healthy coping skills
- Hosted an assembly for all Juniors and Seniors. P2P team members shared information about depression, anxiety, and resources, and a guest speaker shared his story of struggle and help-seeking while a student at the University of Michigan
“Pain Is Real, Hope Is 2”
- Provided fellow students with brief mental health messages on morning announcements
- Gave away wristbands and stress balls with slogan, “Pain is Real, Hope is 2”.
- Wore P2P T-Shirts regularly to increase awareness amongst fellow students
- Hung posters with positive mental health messaging to raise awareness, reduce stigma, and promote help-seeking among peers
- Hosted an evening screening of “The Ripple Effect” documentary, open to students, parents, and community members
“Your Mind Matters” | “Reduce the stigma, Reach out for help, End the cycle” | “Got Awareness?””
- Second year participating in Peer to Peer program
- Held school-wide assembly dedicated to mental health awareness and promoting the P2P program and mental health campaign
- Created posters and stickers that promoted mental health awareness, help-seeking resources and reducing stigma
- During EDJI Day (Equity/Diversity/Justice/Inclusion) P2P Members partnered with the Diversity Alliance team to facilitate a social justice discussion on the toll that inequality and advocating for human rights can have on your mental health
- Held Mental Health Awareness Spirit Week that included numerous events including handing out stickers, self-care workshops, lunchtime announcements and activities that promoted mental health knowledge, creating a wellness wall, and facilitated a discussion on how intersectional identities impact mental health stigma
“Pain is Real. So is Hope.”
- 1st year participating in P2P program
- Created poster displaying depression posters, resources, and list of P2P Members
- Assembled a positive messages board using wooden hearts for students to take and leave a message, from and for each other
- Distributed wristbands with “Pain is Real. So is Hope.” slogan
“I want you to be alive. 1-800-273-8255.”
- First year implementing Peer to Peer program
- Peer 2 Peer Bulletin Boards - photos of all the P2P students, along with facts/stats about mental health and illness, mental health memes, and available resources
- Taught a lesson about mental health, depression, and suicide awareness to middle school students. They also showed Logic’s “1-800-273-8255” music video and held a discussion afterwards.
- Created stress relief kits for students that included a stress ball, mints, lip balm, wristband, and a list of stress relief tips
“You’re not the only soldier on the field!” #GrizzliesGotYou”
- Held an in-school mental health assembly with an EMU student as the guest speaker. The student has anxiety and lost a close friend to suicide. She shared her story to junior and senior classes and held a Q&A afterwards.
- Created three new posters focused on mental health awareness, help-seeking, and coping strategies
- Hosted an informational mental health resource table at lunch for a week that had brochures of local mental health resources
- Students that visited the table were entered into a raffle for gift cards
- Students were offered stress balls and wristbands as a reward for learning more about mental health
These school teams of approximately 5-30 students each were selected by their teachers and counselors to attend one of two mental health educational conferences, on Nov. 1 or 5, 2018, at the University of Michigan Depression Center. The students participated in educational presentations to improve their knowledge of depression and anxiety, led by clinicians as well as presenters sharing their personal experiences with mental health issues. Also included was information on loneliness, alcohol and other drugs, reframing failure, self-care, practical strategies for planning an effective awareness campaign, and time to brainstorm ideas for their campaign with their group.
Following the opening conference, and with assistance from Faculty Mentors at each school, each team submitted a plan for their P2P project in December 2018, and then began implementing their campaigns January–May, 2019.