Implementing School-Based Mental Health Programs for Adolescents: Learning from Peer-to-Peer Depression Awareness Initiative and Addressing Challenges

Respond to both responses:
Hello group mates,
Our topic and how we plan and implement our program will truly help many adolescents in the state. I hope that it gets adopted nationwide. Depression and other mood disorders are associated with interference in work, school, social life, and relationships (Parikh et al., 2018). I found an article that had the same that conducted a school-based program in Michigan named Peer-to-Peer Depression Awareness, aiming to decrease mental illness and promote well-being among high schoolers. The researchers had goals to improve the environment regarding mental health, directing students to resources and encouraging students to seek help if needed. The researchers went to 10 high schools and campaigned for peer-to-peer depression awareness to include changing attitudes toward depression, identifying signs and symptoms of depression, referring peers to resources as needed, and reducing the stigma about mental health illnesses. They utilized school staff and students “champions” to teach and attend peer mentorship classes. Through this school initiative, each school created a comfortable environment for students in the ten schools wherein they could talk about mental illnesses comfortably. We can learn from the research methods and hopefully use some of them in our program.
Respond to both responses:
Group 3,
After reading over our description of the program, I believe it is evident that mental health programs, specifically for adolescents, need to be implemented into schools for children to receive adequate help and treatment. The program discussed above does indeed provide adolescents with resources that include education and discussion regarding what mental illness is, as well as resources for those who are struggling with their own mental health. Furthermore, I like how this program involves the school counselors. This is an important aspect of the program as the counselors are ultimately the people that see the students the most and potentially have a better understanding of what is going on with the students when the program’s team of professionals is not around. However, it can be quite overwhelming and challenging for counselors to take on such a heavy student population. According to the American School Counselor Association, the recommended ratio of students to counselors is 250-to-1. However, in the state of Virginia in 2022, for example, the average ratio was 307-to-1. Moreso, several studies have noted that smaller ratios support increases in standardized test performance, attendance, GPA and graduation rates. Again, while decreasing the ratio of counselors to students is very difficult, implementing this program in schools can assist the counselors in aiding the students further in what they need and getting them the right mental health treatment.
One recommendation I would add to the program’s description is that it needs to be determined how we will refer or treat students who need further workup and/or care outside of school, meaning possibly in a clinic or even inpatient. This could involve having to get parents involved as well as insurance and finances that the students may not have or qualify for. To further this discussion, I would like to ask other classmates if they have any recommendations for this program as far as financial resources and/or free treatment centers that students could go to if the severity of their mental illness progressed to this point?
Thank you for the feedback in advance and please leave responses to the question below.

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