Students empowered through ‘Hope Week’

By Becky GINOS BOUNTIFUL—Students at South Davis Junior High spent last week promoting “hope” through daily activities intended to foster mindfulness and inclusion. “Every school that has a HOPE squad is encouraged to have a ‘Hope Week,’” said school counselor Polly McQuarrie. “It stands for Hold On, Persuade, Empower through peer interventions. Students are taught to be a positive referral to a trusted adult. With the teen suicide rate so high we focused with New Hope (IHC) to make sure students know what resources they have.” Some of the events included, Mindfulness Monday, Unplugged Tuesday, where students were asked to unplug from their devices for 24 hours, Don’t worry, be happy and Mental Health Awareness Day. Students attended a special assembly on mental health presented by Stacey Sheridan with New Hope IHC. “With hope anything is possible,” she said. “Mental wellness doesn’t mean you’re happy all the time. We all have our highs and lows – we’re human. But we need to recognize our emotions and find healthy ways to work through them. If your low mood doesn’t improve or go away after more than two weeks it could be a sign of depression.” Sheridan said depression is real. “It is an illness. It’s more than occasionally feeling sad. If you are depressed you are not alone. One in six people will suffer from depression at least once in their life. We all have something we battle.” She showed a picture of a solid black box and asked the students how it made them feel. Then she showed them a picture of a beautiful mountain scene and explained that the black box was a small portion of the larger picture. “The small box is like depression, you can’t see beyond the sadness and pain.” Sheridan gave the following warning signs of depression: • Change in sleep • Loss of interest in things you used to love • Lack of concentration • Loss of energy/tired • Moody, mean or angry • Hopelessness “Sometimes these things are hard to spot so we don’t pick up on them,” she said. “I want you to realize that all of us are going to feel these things it’s part of being human and growing up. That’s sometimes why we miss the signs.” Depression is treatable, she said and gave these recommendations to get help: • Find someone you trust to talk to such as an adult who can help you access help • Go to your school counselors • Talk to a teacher you trust • Parents – it’s a time of life that can be hard to talk to parents but ask for support • Other family members – surround yourself with people who love and support you • Family doctor • Counselors/therapists Other suggestions for healthy coping skills include: • Unplug – keep track of how much time you’re spending online. If you’re spending more than two hours a day it could be detrimental to your health and mental state • Journaling – think about everything you’re grateful for and write it down. It helps throughout the day to train the mind to look for good things • Nature – five minutes in nature can raise your mood • Exercise – is one of the best ways to help depression • Get enough sleep – the beauty comes after the sleep “Do something for someone else,” said Sheridan. “It’s a happiness booster and remember three good things that happened during the day.” “I used to be depressed in the past so now I can recognize the signs,” said ninth-grader Talia Andersen who is a member of the HOPE Squad at South Davis. “We greet people happily before school and show new students around. I always like to help new kids because I’m a happy person.” McQuarrie said the principal likes to combine Hope Week with Red Ribbon Week. “If we can save one life the whole effort is worth it.”


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