Bearden’s Hope Squad offers student-friendly mental health resource


One of the resources provided by Bearden’s Hope Squad is therapy dogs.

The Hope Squad, which is a student selected support group at Bearden, works to prevent suicidal ideation and bring awareness to the importance of mental health.

BHS librarian Mrs. Kristen Heffern and counselor Mrs. Leslie Lee co-sponsor the club, which is made up of students who were nominated by at least three of their peers and are known as trustworthy and caring individuals.

“The program itself is nationwide,” Mrs. Heffern said. “It was born out of a school in Utah that had an alarming rate of suicides, and they figured out that peers talk to peers about their depression.

“Out of that came the student-led program that we have. The mission is specifically suicide awareness and prevention.”

The Hope Squad offers members training in many areas. Students learn about mental health and warning signs, as well as skills to cultivate empathetic listening skills. Sometimes the most important thing for someone struggling with suicidal thoughts can simply be a trusted friend, which is what Hope Squad encourages.

“It helps to know how to draw healthy boundaries while also taking care of who needs it,” Mrs. Heffern said. “Using the curriculum provided by Hope Squad, we are training these students on how we can create and sustain a culture that makes everyone at Bearden feel included, loved and listened to.” 

The Hope Squad at Bearden meets in the library on the first and third Thursday of the month during FLEX.

“In meetings, we learn how to listen and help others while creating safe boundaries for ourselves,” senior Anna Lynn Harms said.

By focusing on creating safe and healthy boundaries for the club members, these students are able to help others without risking their own mental health or well being. The club also finds unique ways to bring joy into Bearden students’ lives. By offering time in the library with therapy dogs, students are able to take a break from the stress of school for a moment to promote positivity and love at Bearden.

“If students need help, I would hope they feel comfortable coming to me, a teacher, or their grade-level counselor,” Mrs. Heffern said. “That said, if they speak to a friend, that friend may very well be part of the Hope Squad.”

Students can also find help by reaching out to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (988), which is a free, confidential, 24/7 service that helps those struggling with suicidal ideation.

“Also, don’t forget our school counselors are all highly trained, compassionate, wonderful people that will talk to you and help you find any help that you may need or refer you where you can get assistance,” Mrs. Heffern said.

Added Harms: “Students can find us through reaching out to their guidance counselors or our teacher sponsors. You can also meet Hope Squad members at certain club or sporting events.”

If any student wants to join Hope Squad at Bearden, they can go to the library to talk to Mrs. Heffern, or reach out to Mrs. Lee. With 28 members this year, the club has room to grow and increase awareness about the importance of mental health and support systems.