On Wednesday, March 23, Brush Middle School students participated in a day of mental health education. Throughout the morning, Morgan County professionals held sessions about their specialties.
Representatives from Centennial Mental Health Center began the day with a presentation about suicide prevention, teaching students the possible warning signs and what to do if they or a friend needs help. Students were provided with information about three mental health resources: The Trevor Project, Colorado Crisis Services and Safe2Tell.
The Trevor Project is a nonprofit organization focused on aiding LGBTQ+ youth in suicide prevention and crisis intervention. Text START to 678-678, call 1-866-488-7386 or visit thetrevorproject.org/get-help/ to chat with a counselor online.
Colorado Crisis Services can be reached by texting TALK to 38255, calling 1-844-493-8255 or visiting an in-person location. Northeast Colorado’s location is in Greeley at 928 12th Street. All Colorado locations can be viewed at coloradocrisisservices.org/#map.
Through Safe2Tell, people are able to submit anonymous reports for people they fear may be a danger to themselves. Safe2Tell’s goal is to help save the lives of Colorado students. Anonymous tips can be submitted by calling 1-877-542-7233 or visiting safe2tell.org/submit-anonymous-tip-report. The Safe2Tell app can also be downloaded on smartphones.
All three of the aforementioned resources are free, confidential and available 24 hours a day, every day of the year.
The other five sessions of the day were focused on practicing yoga and learning about social media safety, how to improve sleeping habits, how to handle stress and negative thoughts and how to use tapping techniques to cope with anxiety.
Megan Graefe, who teaches yoga therapy classes at the Center for Healing Trauma and Attachment in Brush, led students in a yoga session. She taught students multiple yoga poses and helped them focus on their breath work.
Local counselor Cassie Potts led sessions on tapping techniques, which are often used to treat anxiety and other mental disorders. One specific tapping technique she taught students is called the butterfly hug, where one’s hands are placed across their chest. The person’s thumbs are overlapped in the center of their chest and each hand represents one of the “butterfly’s” wings. Hands alternate tapping on either side of the chest, which stimulates both sides of the brain, therefore lessening some of the person’s internal struggles.
Students also attended a session about social media safety from SARA House’s Outreach Coordinator Sara Hergenreter and School Outreach Advocate Jeff Pope. They mentioned the importance of using social media for good like staying connected to far-away friends and family, rather than using it to bully others or post about controversial opinions. Students learned that many future employers look at potential hires’ social media pages, and in some cases, that can be the reason a person does or does not get hired over another candidate.
Mandy Brown led a session about the importance of creating good sleeping habits. She discussed “sleep hygiene” and ways to improve one’s sleep hygiene, such as staying off of phones and not watching TV at least an hour before bedtime. She showed students a video from “Every Mind Matters,” before encouraging them to try and take a power nap for the last five or so minutes of the session.
Art therapist Jeanett Baker of Kidz Healing Artz and social worker Suzanne Becker of LCSW mental health clinic also led a session. They focused on teaching students some different ways to handle stress and negative thoughts, particularly though art. Jeanett Baker, who also holds a free eight-week program where she teaches people to use art to cope with grief, can be reached by phone at 970-467-7331. More information about Kidz Healing Arts can be found on Facebook @kidzhealingartz. Suzanne Becker can be reached by phone at 970-441-0026.
Though many different topics were discussed throughout the day, there all came back to a few common themes: You are not alone. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. And take care of yourself.