#SameHereSchools programs support students’ social and emotional development, and their sense of connection to the teachers, staff, and their peers. The #SameHereSchools program creates a cultural shift within schools, providing a safe atmosphere for students to express themselves openly and use the #SameHere universal hand sign to communicate when they are dealing with emotional or mental health challenges – whether they be originating at home, in school, or out in the community. By helping change a school’s culture together, we make it more acceptable for students to ask for help, and for teachers and administrators to recognize when help is needed. before there are verbal and non-verbal communication breakdowns and misunderstandings.
The Movement and its Alliance recognizes the complex nature of addressing stress and mental health in schools. This program is primarily focused on mental health awareness, prevention, education, and positive culture development, via the following initiatives:
Launch Assembly (one or multiple assemblies with various schools in a district) with the entire school community, led by a member of The Alliance who shares their own story of overcoming life’s challenges, and how they had to ask for help. They then introduce the concept of the #SameHere universal hand sign to the entire school community. This presentation provides students and staff with a relate-able and comforting back-story to introduce this powerful sign gesture that is woven throughout the culture of the school, for the purpose of addressing students’ mental health needs: from needing a break in class to speaking to a mental health professional in school. The Alliance Member shares their own personal mental health challenges, to show that – we all go through obstacles in life, and therefore it’s OK to ask for help. These assemblies help each school change the common misconception that students who go to see a counselor, take some time out, or ask for help, are “weak.”
Specific Curriculum (created by a panel of experts with many decades of experience both in psychology and education) developed to educate students on the science of stress and trauma over time, their impact on our minds and bodies, and the signs and the symptoms that would enable us to quickly support an individual developing complications. In addition, the curriculum demystifies specific mental health terms to ensure students’ understanding of what to look out for and how to best address these concerns by asking for help. The curriculum educates students (grade-level specific), on terms like Depression, Anxiety, PTSD, OCD, so that more are able to self-identify, and know when it is time to ask for help, based on their symptoms. The curriculum is also interactive and weaves in clips from Alliance Members reinforcing important topic points, as well as illustrations, animations and collaborative exercises to optimize learning and understanding.
Daily Release & Rewiring Practice taught to a group of teachers, administrator, and student leaders (selected by each school) for them champion and implement for a few minutes per day with the full school population to reduce stress, elevate moods, and raise overall performance. We have partnered with a number of programs, including the YES! for Schools programs, to deliver the training for these types of practices.
Volunteer Check-Ins where an Alliance volunteer checks-in with a designated groups of student leaders for 30 minutes, three times per school year, to discuss their own stresses, career interests, and how they manage it all, leading to successful, balanced lives. They also discuss with students, how the program has changed the school culture and ask for feedback as to how we can keep improving the program. These volunteers come from the corporate sector and are selected by the Alliance based on their proximity to each school, and their background and fit with each school.
#SameHereSchools programs may be implemented with all four activation points above, or schools have the option to choose which of the four are most important and applicable to them.