By: Suzie Glassman/Newsbreak Denver
(Castle Rock, CO) The Douglas County School District hosted a community night earlier this month to provide insight into the Sources of strength suicide prevention program in many district schools.
Dr. Kelli Smith, director of counselling, school-based interventions and nursing services at DCSD, said she was impressed with the students who spoke at the community night with stories about the impact of the program on them.
Many students have said Sources of Strength has helped them understand when they can’t handle a situation on their own by teaching them the signs and symptoms that can lead to a suicide attempt. They learned when and how to contact a trusted adult.
The Sources of Strength program focuses on the positives
“The Sources of Strength program is built around an eight-force wheel. Students work with trained adult leaders to focus on what’s happening, from positive friends to mental health and family support,” said Kimberly Moore, health, prevention and social learning manager. emotional of the DCSD.
“The program provides a common language that children can use and share thoughts about the Wheel of Force,” she says. “It also allows children to speak up and report to a trusted adult when they think a friend is in trouble.”
Community partners provide additional funding for mental health in the district
Several community partners who have employees in Douglas County have donated money for mental health initiatives in the district.
Moore said local partners contributed more than $150,000 in the 2021-22 school year.
Donors include Centura Health, United Healthcare, Castle Rock Adventist Hospital Foundation, the Philip S. Miller Grants Program, and the Douglas County Community Foundation.
Social and emotional learning in the neighborhood
The Sources of Strength program is not a mandatory program. “All DCSD schools support social-emotional learning through our state standards. Each school is free to use whatever curriculum it chooses to master these standards,” Dr. Smith explained.
If you would like more information about your school’s programs, contact your principal.
National Mental Health Emergency
Last fall, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, and the Children’s Hospital Association said a national child and youth mental health emergency.
Recent CDC data reports that “in 2021, more than a third (37%) of high school students reported having had poor mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic, and 44% said they felt constantly sad or hopeless over the past year”.
Last year, the Biden administration approved nearly $85 million in funding for mental health awareness, training and treatment in schools. Additional federal grants are also available.
About sources of strength
Sources of Strength is a non-profit organization whose mission is “to prevent suicide by increasing help-seeking behaviors and fostering connections between peers and caring adults.”
A 2011 results evaluation report published in the American Journal of Public Health found the Sources of Strength program:
- Increased youth-adult connectivity
- Increased academic engagement of peer leaders
- Peer leaders at top schools were four times more likely to refer a suicidal friend to an adult
- Increase positive perceptions of adult support for suicidal youth and acceptability to seek help
Find help for your teen
According to the Colorado Children’s Campaign, among children ages 10 to 18, “suicide has been identified as the leading cause of death in recent years, and current local research has identified cyberbullying, use of social media, lack of feelings of resilience and exposure to suicide in adults as a risk factor.
If you need urgent help for your teen, don’t delay. You can call one of the following hotlines for confidential advice, available 24/7: