This week, Landmark High School hosted a successful parent night in which many mental health issues were discussed including: mental illness, teenage suicide, and bullying. The program was under the direction of the Landmark HS School Community Council. The council’s chairman is parent Mark Ostler. The presenters included Julie Schwartz—school-based prevention specialist with National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI) Utah, and Chelsea Seegmiller—the school-based therapist with Wasatch Mental Health. Julie Schwartz said, “Mental Health is vitally important to our adolescents’ overall health and ability to be successful in school. With statistics showing that at least 20% of our kids age 10-19 will deal with a mood disorder (the most common mental illness) at some point in their lives, it becomes so important that parents are aware of the signs and symptoms of mental illness in their children so they can get their kids the help and treatment they need. Mental illness is a highly treatable illness yet left untreated it can be debilitating to the person suffering. I was very proud of the staff, faculty and parents at Landmark High School for taking the time to address this important issue.” The event was well attended by Landmark parents.
Assistant Principal, Scott Carson, said, “This event is the kick off point for a three pronged approach to increasing awareness and student support in the area of mental health and emotional well-being. Those three prongs include: developing strong and supportive relationships between students, staff, and parents, skill building through our advisory program, and fostering a supportive and trained student body using the Hope Squad Program. As the Nebo District’s alternative high school, we have always felt very strongly about these things. We have tried to cultivate a family environment at our school where students feel comfortable sharing their struggles and concerns and seeking help.”
NAMI provides a free curriculum to schools which cover topics such as Mood Disorders, Substance Abuse Disorders, Eating Disorders, and Suicide Prevention. These topics will be covered as part of the school advisory curriculum as well as through a series of assemblies and lunch time forums. Student produced media campaigns and support groups through the HOPE Squad are also in the works. All of these efforts are critical to the overall success of students—not just at school, but in life in general.
The HOPE Squad is a student led program that is designed to raise awareness of suicide and train students to recognize the danger signs and help others seek the help they need. Patrick Hogle, a Dean of Student Services, has this to say about the HOPE Squad Program. "Our students at Landmark are amazingly resilient and have overcome so many difficulties in their lives. These experiences have built a deep pool of empathy. We must tap this strength to help those members of our school family that are struggling with mental illness, thoughts of self-harm and bullying. HOPE Squad offers us the opportunity to make this process more visible and comprehensive. HOPE Squad really does offer our students the opportunity to get help as well as help others. If we are to ever to beat mental illness we bring it into the light and talk about it. We must remove the stigma. There truly is HOPE for all of us if we take the time to learn, notice, care for one another. "