It feels like just yesterday we were ringing in 2020 and looking forward to a bright new year and new opportunities. But it simultaneously feels like forever since schools went to remote learning and the world stopped for COVID-19. What a difference just a few months can make in our lives.

Erika’s Lighthouse was just as caught off guard as our educators, parents and teens by the upheaval of our lives and the need to adapt. We did so by starting our “We’re In This Together” campaign focused on the immediate needs of our stakeholders during a mental health crisis.

While we are far from returning to the normalcy we’d all like, we must move forward and Erika’s Lighthouse is forging ahead with you. Instead of focusing on the immediate needs, we are focused on the long-term by building a national Beacon of Hope for teens experiencing depression.

This starts now with the new We’re In This Together: New Year, New Challenges, New Resources from Erika’s Lighthouse. Our new efforts aren’t focused only on the upcoming school year, but ensuring school communities are prepared to meet the mental health needs of students for the next five, ten or twenty years.

Here are a few new (STILL FREE) resources available to educators to support teens and their families and create an inclusive, empathetic culture in your school:

Resource Portal Design | We have totally redesigned our Resource Portal to make accessing our new library of resources easier. You’ll have access to the same great programming with your same login – but reorganized for your convenience.

Activity-based Curriculum | In addition to our existing classroom programs, educators will now have access to new lesson plans that engage and activate students in developing the skills they need to thrive. These new curriculum meet the National Health Education Standards 1 and 3 to promote accessing information and self-advocacy. These new lessons will be available before the start of the new school year.

Professional Development | You now have access to a 2-hour depression awareness and suicide prevention training designed for every staff member in your school. This flexible training can be used in a group or individual basis with customizable independent exercises.

Suicide Prevention Toolkit | We recently released a White Paper on how Depression Education IS Suicide Prevention and exceeds the recommendations in the Model School Policy on Suicide Prevention. This includes a checklist of tools and resources from Erika’s Lighthouse to help your school implement effective practices.

Best Practice Guides | For schools looking for the best way to get started, the Resource Portal now features documents focused on the best way to implement Erika’s Lighthouse programming and curriculum for school buildings, classrooms, and remote learning. 

Teen Empowerment Clubs & Awareness into Action Activities | We are relaunching our Teen Empowerment Clubs and Awareness into Action Activities (formerly Depression Awareness Campaigns) to meet the needs of today’s school communities. Clubs have access to over 40 turn-key activities to promote good mental health in their schools.

Effective Interventions | Access sample policies and interventions for educators and school staff to utilize when working with teens struggling with depression or suicidal ideation.

Bilingual Resources | Educators and schools will have access to more Spanish-language tools and supports than ever before including our Parent Handbook, Parent Letter, Teen Bookmark, and Self-Referral cards to name just a few.

Teen Toolbox | The Teen Toolbox on our website has been updated with new information on preventing depression and how teens can promote good mental health along with the inclusion of several new tools and guides.

Parent Supports | We have developed new supports you can share with parents to help them have meaningful discussions with their teens about mental health, host a workshop in your school and more.

Customizable Designs | Almost all of our resources are now available in Canva for educators to add school logos, customize help-lines, add school mental health contacts and more. You can now create the resources YOU need for YOUR student body to seek help and find support.

And more | We cannot even begin to tell you how excited we are about these new tools and resources. Our Resource Portal features even more designed just for your school.

We, at Erika’s Lighthouse, will continue to create high-quality, valuable resources to help you educate students and their families about depression and promote good mental health. Do not hesitate to reach out if you need support implementing our programs.

Good luck this school year and please know we are here to be your partners in success!

From the desk of Brandon M. Combs, MNA, Executive Director