Emily Zoladz | The Grand Rapids Press

A mental health program being taught in some Michigan middle schools and high schools is striving to help educate students about mental health and also save lives in the process.

As mlive.com reports, “Live, Laugh, Love: Educating Our Youth About Mental Health,” a program presented by the Mental Health Foundation of West Michigan, covers suicide prevention, depression and other mental illnesses. The program lasts four to eight weeks, and students are given mental health screenings. If need be, students can see a counselor right away.

“We need to talk about [mental illness] like we talk about diabetes and cancer,” said Christy Buck, director of the Mental Health Foundation of West Michigan. “Just like those things, mental illness is a sickness that’s treatable. It’s a disease of the brain, a chemical imbalance. People with mental illness can be moms. They can be good students.”

The program, which began six years ago, has seen positive results:

“Out of one district’s questionnaires last year, 56 out of 240 wanted to talk to a professional, Buck said. Of those, 40 needed help for themselves. Others reported classmates they were concerned about.”

“The system worked,” Buck said. “That’s massive.”

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Heather Rudow is a staff writer for Counseling Today. Email her at hrudow@counseling.org.

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