The Hult Center has been providing the Signs of Suicide and Hope Project mental health education programs to area youth since 2013, when Mental Health of America and the Hult Center merged. Immediately following these programs, students were asked to provide Hult educators with their ID numbers if they felt the need to speak to a counselor. This led to students disclosing some very powerful information, including thoughts of suicide and the need for resources and support without knowing where to go. In fact, just last school year, Hult educators collected 114 ID numbers. But, what we found was that many of the school staff, especially counselors, were unable to handle some of the referrals that were sent their way.
To help address this need, the Hult Center is collaborating with the Center for Prevention of Abuse and UnityPoint Behavioral health to provide a mental health education and awareness program for students in grades 6 through 9 called Youth Mental Health Matters. One important component of the program is the provision of an outreach mental health counselor who will act as a “safety net” for students who indicate a need for counseling and referrals. This mental health counselor will work with school counselors, as well as counselors from other area agencies, to ensure that any students who are struggling will get the help they need.
With funding and support from the Heart of Illinois United Way, UnityPoint, and the Hult Center’s Whitney’s Walk fundraiser, this program has been implemented in District 150 schools since Fall 2015 and will reach over 3,400 students during the 2015-2016 school year.
For more information regarding Youth Mental Health Matters, please call the Hult Center at 309-692-6650.