Mental Health Awareness Week, May 11 – 15, was a time of celebrating good mental health and learning how to keep yourself happy and healthy. The Delaware Suicide Prevention Coalition spent time at Buckeye Valley Middle School and Hayes High School to promote these messages, and to provide the students with daily challenges that promoted good mental health. Thursday’s challenge was “Do You”, or spending time doing something you enjoy. At Buckeye Valley Middle School, kids were encouraged to talk about their hobbies while they learned how to make origami and challenged each other to games of Tic Tac Toe. Many studies have shown that engaging in an activity you enjoy reduces stress, which is one of the leading causes of depression.
Friday’s activity was the most challenging. We encouraged students to “Start a conversation about mental health in our community!” The table’s worksheets included myths and facts about suicide and depression, as well as common signs of depression, which include:
- Sadness / anger / irritability
- Feeling worthless
- Feeling hopeless
- Changes in sleeping / eating
- Social withdrawal
- Difficulty concentrating
Signs of suicide were also listed, including:
- Preoccupation with death
- Sudden happiness / calmness
- Giving away prized possessions
- Thinking they are a burden to their family/friends
In the end, Mental Health Awareness Week was about beginning a conversation, and the students at Buckeye Valley and Hayes were happy to join in. Discussions about mental health don’t have to be saved until Mental Health Awareness Week – it’s always important to talk about mental health issues, to help break the stigma surrounding them and allow people to seek help.
For anyone interested in more in-depth information regarding depression and suicide, HelpLine offers a free Signs of Distress trainings. Please contact Max Lencl at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.