An examination of the mental health impact of COVID-19 and how connectedness to school, family, friends and community groups impact mental health outcomes.

Please note: Numbers represent the highlighted annotations on this CDC report.

  1. The Erika’s Lighthouse programs firmly center on the student, allowing teens to find their voices and speak up about mental health. By building up students in their school, teens have the ability to share their knowledge with the community around them, and in turn create a whole school and whole community that supports their physical and mental health.
  2. By using an upstream approach with our programs, Erika’s Lighthouse is able to reach more students reporting poor mental health. The programs are foundational, Tier I universal programs that reach every student, not just those who have already been receiving services.
  3. Our programs are teen-oriented and highlight real stories from real teens. The videos are not scripted and the students are not actors; this allows for a peer-to-peer approach that focuses on connecting with the students in the classroom. The diversity and representation demonstrated throughout the program allows young people the opportunity to connect with someone like them.
  4. We believe that depression education is suicide prevention. With early identification and intervention, we can identify more struggling students versus traditional suicide prevention programming. We know that 90-98% of all youth suicides involve a mental illness, with the most common being depression. Further, we know that 80% of young people with depression will go unrecognized so by implementing depression education we hope to decrease stigma to increase awareness and help-seeking behaviors.
  5. Our programs offer a skills-based approach to give students the opportunity to learn and practice reaching out for help to a trusted adult. To address this from a staff standpoint, our staff training teaches school staff what to do if they are a student’s trusted adult reinforcing school connectedness from multiple angles.
  6. Our programming is not stand alone. We offer wraparound programming that addresses all four pillars of an inclusive school community – classroom education, teen empowerment, family engagement and school policy and staff training. The life skills students are learning in our programs lead to life-long self-advocacy in and outside the classroom.
  7. When students can identify where to seek help in school, they feel safe and connected. The Erika’s Lighthouse program utilizes Self-Referral Cards, which offer students the opportunity to recognize that they might need to speak with someone and indicate that they’d like to be connected to a health service provider.  Our Teen Empowerment Clubs offer teens the structure and support to take a leadership role in their school around mental health.
  8. Our programs build upon social, emotional and academic learning by giving kids the life skills they need to take a step into the mental health space. It allows them to know how to advocate for themselves and for their peers. Combined with using our professional development programs for staff, everyone within the school community has a common language around mental health.
  9. We have designed information, resources, workshops and more to equip school communities to better interact with families around depression and mental health. Our parent handbook is a parent-to-parent guide that contains helpful, practical ideas – ideas that we hope will be of some help to families in a difficult time.
  10. Erika’s Lighthouse programs offer a continuum from encouraging good mental health to educating students on the signs and symptoms of depression to a focus on suicide prevention – promoting early identification and intervention. By recognizing that everyone deserves good mental health we can eliminate stigma and have more open, honest conversations around mental health, depression and suicide that will encourage help-seeking, early identification and early intervention.

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