WBHS Principal Patrick Watson spoke to the website Teen Vogue about the new Prepare U mental health curriculum here. See what he had to say below:
As many as one in five young people shows symptoms of a mental illness, but mental health might still only be just a chapter in you health class text book. One school in Michigan, however, is changing that.
West Bloomfield High School in Michigan offered about 200 students a brand new mental health curriculum, designed to teach them the coping skills necessary not just to be better students, but to live a healthier life all around. In other words, it’s what the people who designed the program wish they had been taught when they were in high school.
“The goal is to give students the tools that every one of us wish we had growing up,” Ryan Beale, founder of Therapy Live, the organization that crafted the Prepare U mental health curriculum used at West Bloomfield High. “We want the next generation to have the ability to channel thoughts and feelings into meaningful pursuits and the ability for them to understand themselves so well that they can be ambassadors for their families and their peers.”
In the past four years, West Bloomfield principal Patrick Watson told Teen Vogue four students at the school have died by suicide. With that in mind, Therapy Live offered to let West Bloomfield try out their mental health curriculum first, before opening up the program to other schools across the country. With the first round of class complete, Beale said another 15-class course is set to start in February. Exposing more students at West Bloomfield to information about how to cope with and treat their mental health, Beale said he hopes young people across the country learn that asking for help and seeking mental health treatment isn’t bad or weird — it’s perfectly normal.
“We know that mental health is just part of life and we all will struggle or live with someone who struggles at some point in our lives,” Beale said. “After losing my oldest brother to suicide, I became very passionate about getting people out of their comfort zone so that we can have an honest dialogue about mental health and to stop treating it like it was somebody else’s problem.”
The more people talk about mental health, the less stigma there is around. With less stigma, more people may feel comfortable seeking treatment — that’s important because we know that treatment works.