Students create mental health workbook for younger kids

Green Mountain High School students want kids in elementary school students to learn skills to deal with mental health issues. 9NEWS at 6 p.m. 10/30/15.


LAKEWOOD - When Jessica Edwards started writing a book along with her classmates in business leadership class, she knew this was more than just a project. It was part of the fight in preventing teen suicide.

"As a class, we wanted to stop it," Edwards said. "We wanted to get people aware of mental health. We wanted to relieve the stigma of mental health around this because kids grow up feeling mental health is bad."

Edwards is a junior at Green Mountain High School in Lakewood, where suicide has been an issue over the years.

"I don't know what about Green Mountain," Sarah Majers, junior, said. "We've had strings of suicides."

Three years ago, a previous class, under teacher Van Davis, created a first book entitled Dear Parents, From Teens, which dealt with mental health issues and suicide.

"To spread mental health awareness, to talk about suicide prevention, even though it's a taboo subject, to really just get the message out there of positivity," Davis said. "How can we be more positive so people aren't drawn into these dark places?"

The second book just published is called Dear Parents, From Kids, and Edwards says it is aimed at teaching students from kindergarten through fourth grade communication skills to address daily issues and fears.

"If they can talk to their parents about Tina and Tucker the turtles, then hopefully when they're older, they can feel comfortable enough to go their parents," Edwards said.

The high school students will distribute the books to elementary schools that feed into Green Mountain High School. They will also conduct lessons with students using the workbook, which is also full of coloring pages, crossword puzzles and games.

The book does not directly discuss suicide or mental illness, but Edwards says it addresses mental health indirectly in a way that younger kids can understand.

"This was one way we could start early," Edwards said.

The book was created as part of a program called FIRE Within. It is a business competition put on by the Carson J. Spencer Foundation, which is a nonprofit dedicated to suicide prevention. Different schools create a product to sell that deals with social change related to suicide prevention.

Edwards says this project is important because she knows how it feels to think about suicide.

"I was in that place," Edwards said. "I feel like it is my job and my duty to my community and to this world to help other people not feel like I did."

(© 2015 KUSA)


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