County Implemented In: Madison County
Additional Counties Using Program (if known): Beaverhead County, Yellowstone County (Huntley and Lockwood) and communities in eastern Montana are looking at implementing it as well.
Brief Synopsis of Why the Program Was Chosen: Sheridan school district recognizes that the mental health of our children is crucial. Not only does mental health affect physical health, but untreated mental health problems interfere with learning, socialization, and self-esteem, and can lead to alcohol and drug misuse that can have lifelong repercussions. And for some students, untreated mental health problems lead to suicide. Sheridan schools and Southwest Montana Prevention researched evidence-based programs and, through the help of a grant, implemented HOPE SQUAD.
Hope Squad is a peer-to-peer suicide prevention program. The program reduces youth suicide through education, training, and peer intervention; all members are QPR trained.
Hope Squad members strive to:
- Create a safe school environment
- Promote connectedness
- Support anti-bullying
- Encourage mental wellness
- Reduce mental health stigma
- Prevent substance misuse
Successes/Highlights of Program: Each month, Hope Squad collaborated with Southwest Montana Prevention and held educational, peer-supported events for the schools. The first month they welcomed everyone back by having white flags on the lawn representing each teen suicide in Montana for the past year and 1 yellow for the recent suicide in Madison County. They handed out life savers and held an assembly to explain the flags, and to introduce Hope Squad. They held Red Ribbon Week events, food drives, and a Winter Wonderland to encourage and strengthen unification among the students. The final event was for Alcohol Awareness Month. Hope Squad went into K-6 grade classrooms and presented drug and alcohol-free talks. They collaborated with Southwest Montana Prevention and Madison County Communities That Care and ended the month with a Color Run held during the “CTC Community FUN NIGHT.” There were 150 people who participated in the run with the theme “A Healthy Me is Drug-Free.
Additional Information to Share: Suicide is a very difficult topic to discuss. Silence can have tragic results, and knowledge can save lives. It takes training, dependability, and courage to be an effective Hope Squad member, and it is a program that will continue to grow and be trusted by the peers of the Hope Squad over time.
For more information on Hope Squad in Sheridan, contact Esther Lince.
Color Run the Hope Squad organized.