Rogers helps kids decide whether to or how to talk about mental health issues

02/18/17 09:11:am

HOPimage.jpgIn the split second someone asks about your mental health, it may be difficult deciding how or even if to share your journey—even more so if you’re a teenager. Wisconsin Initiative for Stigma Elimination (WISE), a statewide coalition promoting inclusion and support for all affected by mental illness, offers Honest, Open, Proud (HOP), a program helping teens make safe decisions about disclosure. The face-to-face, small group program is launching the online version in 2017 to be accessible to all youth in our state.

“Honest, Open, Proud helps youth in grades 8-12 who have faced a mental health challenge, diagnosed or not,” says Sue McKenzie, co-director of Rogers InHealth and co-facilitator of WISE. “In a series of five one-hour sessions, teens practice skills for reversing hurtful ‘self-talk’ and look at the costs/benefits of disclosing at work, school, or with friends.” Teens learn that not every situation is safe or appropriate to share their experiences.

Teens learn about levels of disclosure and how their reason for a disclosure will shape what they choose to share. Youth practice ways to “test” someone as safe to disclose to, prepare responses to unanticipated reactions and are also invited to a check-in session one month after the program ends.

The high school program was adapted from an adult version created by Patrick Corrigan, PsyD. “As WISE began using the HOP program, we realized a key age group was missing from the HOP suite of programs: youth,” says McKenzie. “So, WISE partnered with Corrigan to develop a version more relevant to youth.” The evidence-based adult HOP program demonstrated a statistically significant increase in empowerment, reduction in stigmatizing attitudes about self, a decrease in anxiety about disclosure, and an increased willingness to seek help.

Over 200 HOP facilitators have been trained for the high school setting over the past year with additional trainings scheduled statewide for 2017. Facilitator trainings and HOP high school sessions are funded by Rogers Memorial Hospital, Mental Health America (MHA)-WI, Youth Empowered Solutions (Wisconsin Department of Health Services), and other WISE partners. By June, approximately 100 students will participate in randomized control trial research of the program.

Interest in the youth version of HOP has gone international! InHealth staff will present at the International Stigma Conference in Copenhagen this September.

Rogers InHealth is an advocacy arm of Rogers Behavioral Health, and works to support reduction of stigma as part of Rogers’ response to community needs. 

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