Grand Haven High School students to receive mental health lessons

Krystle Wagner • Mar 15, 2016 at 12:00 PM

In the coming weeks, all Grand Haven students in grades 9-12 will learn more about mental health.

Social workers from The Mental Health Foundation of West Michigan will work with the students attending Grand Haven and Central high schools in 90-minute condensed Live, Laugh, Love curriculum lessons. The training is aimed at providing an overview on mental health, stigma, depression, suicide and protection.

GHHS Principal Tracy Wilson said the lesson is part of the school district’s mental health and suicide prevention initiative, and it gives students educational factors behind good mental health, what it means to have a healthy mind, understanding mental health, stomping out stigma, and how to reach out for help.

On March 30, GHHS and Central students will also participate in a 60-minute assembly called “Love a Buc, Help a Buc.” During that time, a group of seniors from the high school’s Pay It Forward class will talk to their peers about mental health and that it’s OK to reach out for help.

The 100 Women Who Care group and private donors have provided funding for the initiative. There is a GHAPS Mental Health fund at the Grand Haven Area Community Foundation.

Giving students the chance to learn more about mental health is a “dream come true,” Wilson said — because, as they go through crises, they’re always looking at how can they present, educate and surround students with support.

“I also think, as a parent in our community, it gives parents an opportunity to understand we’re about educating the whole child,” the principal said.

By the end of the school year, all GHAPS employees will have received training in Question, Persuade, Refer (QPR) protocol.

Students and educators aren’t alone in getting involved in mental health training. Last week, more than a dozen residents received QPR training and an overview of the Live, Laugh, Love curriculum. Tonight, more than 30 parents will also participate in the training.

Wilson said parents involved in the training shows they support the initiatives. Additionally, she said parents have reached out to see what they can do to help all students.

Wilson hopes the district continues training in the future, depending on what parents request.

Beginning with next year’s incoming freshmen class, ninth-graders will undergo the full four-lesson, 60-minute Live, Laugh, Love curriculum. Wilson said it will become embedded into the ninth-grade curriculum, and school improvement lessons will also discuss mental health.

The district’s Mental Health Advisory Team is also looking at lessons for younger kids — from Young Fives through eighth grade — for coping and handling stresses they face.

Grand Haven Area Public Schools Superintendent Andy Ingall said they are thankful for the donors, and the leadership of Wilson and the district’s Mental Health Advisory Team.

“I am proud that our district and community are working together to address social and emotional issues, and support our students,” he said.

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