Implementing The Model School District Policy On Suicide Prevention: Part IV
by Kristina Kins & Brandon Combs
Editor’s Note: At SSWN we periodically invite colleagues and programs to write about their work and to share their open-access resources with the larger SSWN readership. Today we start a 5-part series with our colleagues at Erika’s Lighthouse (EL), where EL leaders Brandon Combs and Kristina Kins will share how Erika’s Lighthouse programs offer depression education to schools and seek to build school capacity to implement this work around the country. Full disclosure: I (Dr. Kelly) was led two independent evaluations of previous versions of EL programs that were published in peer-reviewed social work journals, which you can find here and here. These articles represent the views of EL, and we welcome them sharing their perspectives here. If you have an organization or program that you’d like to share with SSWN readers, let us know at our idea form here.
Parent Engagement: Supporting Students Outside the Classroom
A significant pillar of Erika’s Lighthouse program and the Model School Policy is that “Parents and guardians play a key role in youth suicide prevention, and it is important for the school district to involve them in suicide prevention efforts… Parents and guardians who learn the warning signs and risk factors for suicide are better equipped to connect their children with professional help when necessary.”
Erika’s Lighthouse has a desire to change school cultures to create more affirming and inclusive communities surrounding mental health discussions and stigma reduction.
What is happening at home is just as important as school, but for students struggling, even more so.
Erika’s Lighthouse provides three forms of support for schools looking to engage parents:
This book is designed to educate and support parents with children struggling with depression and mental health challenges. It was written by parents, for parents, and provides practical information regarding depression, treatment, and promoting positive mental health. It is available in English and Spanish. It is a free download online and hard copies can be purchased. In addition, a Parent Handbook bookmark can be provided to parents to access at their convenience.
Handouts, Letters, and other Resources
Erika’s Lighthouse also provides a number of additional resources that can be offered to students, parents, and staff to supplement lessons. Just a few examples of these resources include a Depression Discussion Guide, the Signs and Symptoms of depression and suicide, information on Managing Depression, Shared Vocabulary, and more. In addition, schools may choose to send home a Parent Letter (in English or Spanish) to inform parents about the Erika’s Lighthouse curriculum being utilized in classrooms along with a few of these resources to help educate parents about the programs and how they can reinforce an inclusive culture at home.
Family Night Workshops
Through a collaborative partnership called Shine Light on Depression, Erika’s Lighthouse has partnered with Anthem, Inc, National Parent Teacher Association, American School Health Association, and JetBlue Airways to create the Family-School Community Conversation Workshops, designed to promote meaningful dialogue between schools and parents about mental health. This two-night program is meant to be offered in collaboration with school mental health staff and a PTA or PTO to educate and inform parents.
Join us for our final post in this series detailing specific areas of implementation of the district policy, covering: Part 5: Teen Engagement: Creating Inclusive School Communities.
Access all the free resources provided by Erika’s Lighthouse at ErikasLighthouse.org.