DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) — Mental health disorders are the number one reason for admission to Dayton Children’s Hospital, according to the Montgomery County Alcohol, Drug Addiction & Mental Health Services (ADAMHS).
Local schools are trying to help students navigate their mental health and show them that they are not alone by enlisting the help of a program called Hope Squad.
Hope Squads are found in over 1,200 schools across 35 states and Canada, according to their website.
The mission of Hope Squad is to reduce youth suicide through education, training and peer intervention. The goal is to meet students where they are at and provide a safe space for them to open up and ask for help.
The Hope Squad members help their fellow classmates navigate difficult feelings and find ways to cope.
“We know that our youth are so much more willing to talk to each other about this than they are to talk to maybe a mental health professional, a parent, another adult,” Colleen Oakes of the Montgomery County Prevention Coalition said.
The Hope Squad creates a trusted peer group for students to confide in, but there is still work to be done, according to Oakes.
“This year we saw that sixty percent of our young people said that they considered suicide in Montgomery County, but only five percent sought mental health help. We’re seeing a huge disconnect between our youth who are suffering and the help they are able to get.”
Parents can encourage their children to get involved with prevention programs at their schools, and teachers can get Hope Squad to their schools by contacting the ADAMHS Board here.