Thursday, February 7, 2013

LO High School Students Reach Out to Support Peers

Lake Orion High School SOS team
Given the continued high rates of “teens in crisis” and suicide among adolescents and young adults (15-24 years of age), the Lake Orion Community Schools has initiated a promising and innovative program of student-to-student support.  A key to addressing these issues is getting students involved in a unified and ongoing approach to helping each other.

Based on their desire to help their peers, 100 student volunteers have been empowered as the first SOS (Students Offering Support) team to create a culture of awareness about teen crises and break down the barriers and stigmas surrounding mental health issues and youth suicide. 

In an all-day session, the SOS team was trained to recognize signs of mental health distress in key areas (e.g. depression, anxiety, suicidal ideation, and substance abuse) and how and where to seek help if an individual needs it or if they have reason to believe their peers are showing signs of crisis.  The training included how to effectively present this information to others so that over the next two months the SOS team will be going from class to class to educate their peers about crisis warning signs and provide information and resources about how and where to seek help.  
This first phase of the SOS program includes a unique activity, “GOto5”, that will result in each LOHS student having identified five personal resources/people to go to if she/he needs help or support.  The SOS team will lead this activity with the outcome that all students will create a small card with the names and contact information of their personal resources that they can carry with them at all times as a reminder that they have others in their life that love, care, and are there for them if they need help or just someone to talk to.
The goal of the SOS program is to have an ongoing student-to-student system of support in place to provide help to anyone in crisis. It's clear that our students want to be part of the solution and if we don't involve them, we are underutilizing a valuable resource.

For further information about the SOS program, contact Superintendent Marion Ginopolis (248-693-5414) or LOHS Counselor Michele Novak (248-693-5638)