High school student leaders from across Arizona are coming together at ASU’s Tempe campus for an important summit — a day of learning and strategic planning centered on mental health programming.
The Nov. 4 summit is a result of a partnership between Bring Change to Mind, a national high school student organization that empowers students to have conversations around mental health, and ASU’s Devils 4 Devils.
“The purpose is to provide a fun day for high school students to connect with other peers, learn how to support one another, talk about mental health, and increase awareness and education in regard to healthy relationships and behaviors,” said Sammy Cristerna, a Devils 4 Devils member and former high school student engaged with Peer-to-Peer Impact and Bring Change to Mind.
Peer-to-Peer Impact is a training and mentorship program that prepares high school students to be effective helpers and leaders in their school, and to help create and strengthen well-being programs, supported by ASU students involved with Devils 4 Devils.
“When I was in high school, ASU reached out to my school and provided peer-to-peer support when it came to the formation and organization of our mental health club,” Cristerna said. “There are many benefits to this collaboration, but I would say the biggest one is the awareness of mental health and wellness.”
Launched in 2019 as a pilot initiative, ASU’s Peer-to-Peer Impact program provides training and peer mentorship that matches current ASU Devils 4 Devils student mentors to high school students. High school partners have included Scottsdale Unified School District, Tolleson Union High School District, Mesa Public Schools, Paradise Valley Unified School District, Tempe Union High School District, Chandler Unified School District and Phoenix Union High School District.
Through the Peer-to-Peer Impact program, more than 1,500 high school students have participated in a two-hour training that equips them to support their peers, build empathy, learn about warning signs and resources, and know when to go to an adult for help. The participants are often members of student-led mental health clubs who then receive mentorship and help in bolstering programming and recruitment for the clubs so they can be sustained long term.
Following a similar mission, Bring Change to Mind focuses on reducing stigma and increasing mental health education and awareness, and all Bring Change to Mind groups from across the state of Arizona are invited to attend the summit event.
“Bring Change to Mind looks forward to welcoming 150 student leaders, members and club advisors from our 50 clubs to this school year’s summit,” said Sharon Tuttle, regional program manager for Bring Change to Mind. “Students are looking at the future and asking, ‘What if?’ They are imagining and creating a different way of moving through the world. They know that through deep connection, listening and including diverse perspectives, and partnering their efforts, they will create a bigger impact than walking through this world solo.”
“We’ve listened to the voices of our student community and therefore this fall’s student summit will be focused on the theme: Embrace empathy. Empower change.”
Through breakout sessions in which students engage in meaningful small-group conversations, to a hands-on activity fair full of ideas for attendees to bring back to their schools, students will leave the event feeling connected, hopeful and inspired to continue their work in their respective communities.
“Many students, after going through our program, decide that they want to go into the field of mental health advocacy or into a more clinical role,” Tuttle said. “Working with Devils 4 Devils (and) Peer-to-Peer Impact allows us to broaden our reach and to support our students and advisors in a more meaningful and tangible way.”
Grace Kirker, assistant director of student well-being at ASU, said that this summit plays an important role in reducing stigmas and increasing mental health education and awareness at high schools around the state.
“By attending the summit, students will collaborate and network with other Bring Change to Mind student groups, learn about mental health and strategically plan for well-being initiatives at their schools,” Kirker said.
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