Metro school joins national mental health movement

Published: May. 20, 2019 at 4:50 PM CDT
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Some local schools have enlisted their own students to help others cope with the pressures of growing up.

On Saturday morning, 400 seniors will graduate from Bellevue West.

Part of the principal's message will be to "be kind" and to challenge everyone to do something nice because small gestures can lead to big impacts.

It's an appropriate message since Bellevue West was one of the first Nebraska schools to incorporate the Hope Squad.

Two years ago, students voted for their peers to determine who would be a part of the team.

The Hope Squad vows to help those who may have dark days or just need a friend to talk to about the challenges of life.

"I tell people we're ambassadors for the Hope Squad and we help people who are struggling mentally or feeling down. We try to get them to the help they need," junior Emily Aden said.

They are champions of suicide prevention.

"We're trained to always ask if they're suicidal or are you contemplating suicide. I always have to ask that if it's a serious conversation. But sometimes it's just about 'How are you doing?' It's super lightweight. But sometimes I'm texting late at night and know I'm going to have to email a teacher about this," junior Jaylah Warner said.

Principal Kevin Rohlfs said he's noticed that these days, young people are more willing to share their feelings.

"The biggest thing is trusting myself that I'm not this person's counselor, but I'm their friend and care about them," junior Alanna Hobbs said. "I talk to them just as I would any of my other friends. I genuinely care how they are doing. I think if you bring yourself to their level instead of putting yourself on a pedestal, I think that helps a lot."

The program is implemented in 500 schools nationally, and many believe it is making a difference.