Teens & Mental Health
The teen years bring many changes – physical, emotional, social, and intellectual. For some, mental health disorders such as depression and anxiety add significant additional stress. These common mental health conditions are leading risk factors for teen suicide. In fact, over 90% of people who die by suicide have a mental health disorder. This is a critical time to teach students that common conditions like these can be treated and lives can be dramatically improved. Reaching out for help, whether for themselves or a friend, can make a life-saving difference.
Designed for students in grades 9-12, the evidence-based Signs of Suicide (SOS) program teaches students how to identify the signs of depression and suicide in themselves and their peers. It reduces stigma around mental health and suicide, and encourages help-seeking behaviors through the ACT message (Acknowledge, Care, Tell). The Signs of Suicide program has shown a 64% reduction in self-reported suicide attempts.
Teens Learn How to Look Out for Each Other
Strong friendships and social support are important protective factors for teens. In times of crisis, teens often turn to peers for support and guidance. Friends and classmates are uniquely positioned to recognize warning signs and connect a distressed peer to a trusted adult. Signs of Suicide provides every student with concrete steps to take when concerned about a friend or loved one. Teens are empowered to help each other by creating a bridge to trusted adults (parents, teachers, and mental health staff), who can connect students to the help they need.
The Role of Schools
Schools are a natural place to provide health education – both physical and mental health – and to identify students in need of extra support. School difficulties may be the first signs of emerging or unidentified mental health needs. In classrooms across the country, teachers identify students who have needs that reach far beyond the classroom. Poor concentration or attendance, difficulties with social integration, and excessive academic worry all point to potential mental health concerns that can be addressed and overcome. With mental health education and identification, students are getting the help they need to be successful in school and in life.