Last year, freshman from the Class of 2021 were called into a session with the school counselors for their first mental health screening. There, they had an opportunity to look into their own mental health. This year, another counselor meeting took place. But this time, they learned about caring for the mental health of their peers.
On Wednesday, Dec. 5, counselors of the Class of 2021 spoke to their sophomores during 8th period to talk about mental health in a new initiative known as Friend2Friend. This new program taught students how to support any friends going through a hard time.
“The overall goal of Friend2Friend is for students to learn ways to help out friends who might be struggling and to recognize warning signs so they can reach out to friends. We hope students learned some effective strategies for helping peers find help,” counselor Kerry Hamblin said.
During the session, students were taught a four step process for talking with friends: ask questions, summarize their situation, identify with them, and provide them help. Counselors also gave them tips, such as avoiding giving advice.
Then, the class walked through an online interactive simulation made by the company, Kognito, in which they played a character talking to a friend. In the simulation, the class worked together to carefully decide what questions to ask and what statements to make, walking through the four step process.
“I thought it was a good way of showing how to talk with other individuals about very personal topics,” sophomore Matthew Hwang said.
From the session, counselors hope that students could get a better understanding of mental health and know how to support their friends.
“I think a general awareness about mental wellness and the signs and symptoms of depression need to be more familiar [with students]. It’s important to reduce the stigma of talking about mental health with trusted adults. Students should encourage each other to do things every day that bring them joy and to de-escalate stress,” Hamblin said.
Friend2Friend is one the steps counselors have taken to create a brighter, more supportive environment in the Jefferson community.