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FINDING HOPE: School program helps students manage mental health

Posted: 8:52 PM, May 27, 2019
Updated: 2019-05-28 02:52:50Z

MERIDIAN — It’s a staggering and quite frankly, upsetting fact. Suicide is the second leading cause of death for Idaho teenagers.

But there's a movement underway in local schools to help students connect and provide a positive environment. Discovering each student's source of strength is vital in keeping them healthy and safe.

Sources of Strength is a program with activities that might look like an end-of-the-school-year party. The high school club uses games as one way to break down social barriers and keep kids connected.

"I mean, I hugged three kids I didn't even know today," said Camille Massaad, Student Body President at Mountain View High School.

About 75 students and teachers teamed up to implement Sources of Strength at Mountain View High School this year. The program's goal is to prevent suicide by fostering positivity and resiliency through real, emotional relationships.

“I feel like now that tech is such a big thing, like so many students are plugged into their phones and less into each other,” said Maddie Wilker, a senior at Mountain View High School. “So having something like this gets us out of our box."

According to state numbers between 2012-2017, 110 Idaho children died by suicide. The Idaho Lives Project began granting Sources of Strength training to Idaho schools five years ago. So far, 80 schools have participated and counselors say it's desperately needed.

"The lack of coping skills. How do we train or educate kids on how to cope when you are having a hard day," asked Cortnay Moyer, counselor at Mountain View High School.

The entrance to Mountain View, one of the largest high school's in Idaho, is now covered in names.

"A trusted adult, someone you go to that you look up to and highly respect, that's what we wanted to focus on," said Massaad.

From mentors and positive friends to mental health, spirituality and generosity, the sources of strength traits build kids up.

"There will always be cliques in high school, but an ultimate goal would be at least we are under the same title. We are all Mavericks this year. We are all a part of the Mountain View community," Massaad said.

And being included is really what every kid wants and needs.

"For as hard as it is to implement a program like this at a school this big, I think we have only scratched the surface. But if we can help one student then we have done our job," Moyer said.