A Depression Awareness Campaign (DAC), is a way to raise awareness about depression and reduce the stigma that surrounds it by creating positive, fact based and hopeful messages about teen depression for the school community. A DAC consists of activities which can be offered throughout the school year to remind the student body that although depression is a common and serious disorder, it is very treatable and help is readily available in school and in the community.
DAC activities can be used by a school’s mental health staff, a classroom teacher looking for more activities or by a school club looking for a fun way to impact the student body and inform them about teen depression and good mental health.
Typically these activities follow a curriculum like Teen Depression Stories of Hope & Health or The Erika's Lighthouse Curriculum: Depression and Suicide Awareness for High School Students. Another great opportunity to send these messages is during National Suicide Prevention Week in September or during National Mental Health Awareness month in May. Pick one campaign each semester or pick several and have fun with it!
While each campaign will be different, and should reflect what will work best in your school, below are some overarching themes that we would like you to include as part of the message you convey to your peers:
Depression is a real disorder – it is not your fault. You can’t just “snap” out of it.
Depression is a common but serious health condition – it is more than just feeling sad.
Depression can take many forms. There are warning signs of depression. Everyone goes through periods of sadness and experiences some of these symptoms from time to time, but when these symptoms continue for 2 weeks or longer and interfere with functioning, it may be depression and you should seek help from a trusted adult.
If you know someone who is talking about suicide, do NOT keep a secret. Tell a trusted adult immediately.
* It is important to remember the Do's and Don'ts of safe and effective messaging for suicide prevention as you move forward with your DAC.
It is really important to know what the resources for help are in your school and your community. We encourage you to create a resource list and get this important information out to students. You might want to make copies of the Erika’s Lighthouse bookmark tailored with your school information or create your own resource list. The resource information can be put on the counter in the nurses office, the mental health offices or distributed in home room or in a class like English.
Check out the downloadable documents and activities Erika's Lighthouse has created to get your DAC started!
Hang this poster in a health classroom and around the school featuring eye-catching and informative facts about teen depression. Print on legal paper for best results.
Place these eductional table tents around your school building to educate about depression! These cards are filled with valued information on depresson that everybody in the building should be aware of, while spreading messages of help and hope.
Hang this compliment poster around the halls of your school! It gives students the chance to pick a compliment, rip it off of the poster, and give it to a friend. This simple act can brighten anyone's day.
Students can do more than they think to support a friend with depression. Through incorporating a fun guessing game of how many Lifesavers are in a jar, students will take away skills on small handcards that will help them navigate what to do if themselves or a friend is struggling.
This download includes sets of footprints that can be placed on the floors around school leading to your building's mental health professional's office. Inside each footprint is information on depression including facts, statistics and ways to help a friend. There is a blank template for you to personalize as well. This is a great way to familiarize students to the location of mental health services in their school.
This activity can be used within the school, or can be a great way to reach out to teens who will be receiving inpatient mental health services this holiday season.
Let students in the building know who is there to support them through times of stress or struggle with these "Beacon of Hope" tags. Staff in the building can put a lighthouse tag on their doors to indicate they are there for a student if they need help for themselves or a friend.
We've created posters that could fit into each core classroom (math, science, English, etc.). The facts messages are those of hope and help, with an educational component as well.
We hope this is helpful as you begin your DAC. Be sure to check back for new activities. When sending our staff pictures of activities with students in the photo, please know that there is a chance we will use the photos on our web or social media!