In this day and age, ending the stigma around mental health is not only wanted but extremely necessary, especially in schools. Groups such as the Mental Health Awareness Club and Hope Squad are working to do just that at North Atlanta. With school back in session and students back in the building, Hope Squad emerged this year in full swing with the first-ever NAHS Hope Day!
After losing a fellow Warrior to suicide in 2019, many North Atlanta students felt that it was very important to further their efforts to break the mental health stigma. The Dubs wanted to create a community where students could talk to each other and know that they are not alone. Members of the class of 2021 brought Hope Squad to North Atlanta to facilitate such a community, but the pandemic made it difficult for the program to reach its full potential. However, upon passing the leadership torch to Josie Bird and Kate Davis, members of the 2022 senior class, Hope Squad has begun to flourish and works to create the community that is so desperately needed in high schools all across America. “Josie and I were so honored to be chosen as this year’s Hope Squad presidents,” said senior and Hope Squad President Kate Davis. “We have seen first hand just how important breaking the mental health stigma is, and we plan to do that with Hope Squad.”
The first order of business for this year’s Hope Squad was Hope Day! Decked out in yellow with Lifesavers candies in hand, members of Hope Squad worked to spread their message of hope throughout the school. With tables set up in three locations around the school during all five lunches, Hope Squad worked as hard as they could to spread hope to all 2,000+ students. In the days leading up to Hope Day, Hope Squad members encouraged their peers to wear yellow, the color of suicide prevention, on Hope Day. In addition, students were given lifesavers to enjoy and yellow ribbons that they could pin on their shirts. While receiving these items, students were encouraged to write a positive message on a sticky note and stick it to the windows near the Hope Squad tables. These messages remain on the windows even weeks after Hope Day and serve as a reminder to students that no matter what they are going through, they have a community of Warriors standing behind them.
It is Hope Squad’s mission that hope be spread today and every day whether it be done through the color yellow, a sticky note, or a lifesaver. Hope Day was a success and just the beginning of the squad’s efforts. After all, it takes a true Warrior to break the mental health stigma and spread hope.