On March 14 Lincoln Academy launched the Sources of Strength program. Sources of Strength is an evidence-based suicide prevention program that has been in use for 25 years in schools around the world.
LA kicked off its program by training 33 peer leaders and four adult advisors who are staff people at the school. In addition to the Lincoln Academy staff, CLC YMCA staff members are supporting the program with their expertise and participation. The group’s goal is to build and spread messages of hopefulness and caring around the school community via interactive information campaigns.
In early March the peer leaders and adult advisors went through an extensive hands-on training process with National Alliance on Mental Illness Maine trainers.
“We are very excited to be collaborating with NAMI Maine and the CLC YMCA, pairing peer leaders and adult advisors to create positive change across the school culture,” said Lisa Katz, school social worker and one of the adult advisors.
Sources of Strength’s mission includes training, supporting, and empowering both peer leaders and caring adults to impact their world through the power of connection, hope, help and strength.
A guiding principle of the program comes from the understanding that culture change that occurs “upstream” from students to their peers, instead of from the adults down, tends to be more effective and lasting.
While Katz says that the students trained in Sources of Strength methods will not be asked to do any therapeutic intervention, they will be involved with messaging to influence school culture in a caring, supportive way. This messaging will include sharing positive coping strategies, encouraging help-seeking behaviors with trusted adults, and modeling that it’s OK to talk about mental health.
The student peer leaders will meet weekly in small groups, and participate in school-wide activities including skits at community meetings, poster and art installations in the halls, and social media campaigns, as well as being involved at CLC YMCA events.