Our peer leadership program was created to empower students to start the conversation around mental illness and suicide in their classrooms by training to deliver our “Talking Mental Health” curriculum. Beyond the classroom, teens meet up at lunch, in the hallways and talk. Peer leaders have shared that after presenting the lessons, one day, two weeks, a month later a student has approached them to share a mental health concern they might have about themselves or a friend. Peer leaders are trained to listen and direct students to the closest safe resource.
We have used this approach in schools in Albuquerque and Farmington with success and plan to actively coordinate with schools in other cities to introduce peer educators. Our approach is to work with school staff, identify and train adult champions to support and assist peer educators with the delivery of our curriculum.