HEALTHY MIND MATTERS

Hope Squad works to provide mental health advocacy, suicide prevention in Utah schools

Jan 18, 2023, 12:41 PM | Updated: May 15, 2023, 1:59 pm

OREM, Utah — Prioritizing mental health is something that is essential. It’s one thing to know about the need to take care of oneself, and another to have the tools and community to put positive mental care practices into action.

Thanks to Hope Squad, a Utah-based program, students in elementary through high school are developing tools needed to care for themselves mentally and share that hope with others.

Mountain View High School hosted Hope Squad Wednesday by bringing in students in junior high all the way through high school. 

The goal of Hope Squad is to promote everything mental health advocacy with students across the state.

“Suicide’s a scary topic. Depression. Anxiety. These are all heavy things,” said Alivia Walker, a Hope Squad leader. 

While it can be difficult to sort out everything going on in our heads, Walker said Hope Squad is there to help the individual and peers with whatever they are going through.

“When we talk about them together, it becomes that safe space where we can be open and move better,” Walker said.

Students KSL spoke with from Bingham High and Stansbury High are taking a class as part of their school day dedicated to Hope Squad. 

Lessons learned are lessons passed along to others. 

“Meditation is super useful — it helps you calm your mind; it just helps put you in the present moment, so you’re not worried about what’s in front of you or what’s behind you. You’re just thinking about right then,” said Spencer Johansen, a Hope Squad leader. 

There is a lot on a high school senior’s plate. Carter Womack, a Hope Squad leader, gets that as a senior himself.

“Especially as a senior, you’ve got so many different classes, college stuff, and we’re really just focusing on getting with our peers and just relieving that,” Womack said.

Hope Squad: Celebrating the wins today and preparing for wins tomorrow. 

“I think for the spring moving forward, I’m happy to be able to congratulate people for making it. We’re proud of them for coming that far and also shaping them. There’s hope in the harder times, you know?” Walker said.

Come February, elementary school students will also be learning from Hope Squad.


Suicide prevention resources

If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts or exhibiting warning signs, call, text, or chat the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988 which is answered 24/7/365 by crisis counselors at the Huntsman Mental Health Institute. All calls to legacy crisis hotlines, including the old National Suicide Prevention hotline, 1-800-273-8255, will also connect to a crisis care worker at the Huntsman Mental Health Institute as well.

Additional resources

  • SafeUT: Parents, students, and educators can connect with a licensed crisis counselor through chat by downloading the SafeUT app or by calling 833-3SAFEUT (833-372-3388)
  • SafeUT Frontline: First responders, including firefighters, law enforcement, EMS, and healthcare professionals can chat with a licensed crisis counselor at no cost 24/7/365 by downloading the SafeUT Frontline app.
  • SafeUTNG: Members of the National Guard can chat with a licensed crisis counselor at no cost 24/7/365 by downloading the SafeUTNG app.
  • Utah Warm Line: For non-crisis situations, when you need a listening ear as you heal and recover from a personal struggle, call 1-833 SPEAKUT 8:00 a.m.-11:00 p.m., 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
  • The Huntsman Mental Health Institute offers a wide variety of programs and services including suicide prevention and crisis services, hospital treatment, therapy & medication management, substance Use & addiction recovery, child & teen programs, and maternal mental health services including birth trauma, pregnancy loss, infertility, and perinatal mood and anxiety disorders.
  • LiveOnUtah.org is a statewide effort to prevent suicide by promoting education, providing resources, and changing Utah’s culture around suicide and mental health. They offer resources for faith based groups, LGBTQ+, youth, employers, firearm suicide prevention, and crisis and treatment options.

Other community-based resources

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Hope Squad works to provide mental health advocacy, suicide prevention in Utah schools