One in 5 high school youth in Indiana has seriously considered suicide, a statistic that triggered a 4-H teen team from Purdue University to develop a positive plan for addressing mental health issues with their peers. The “Think Up” Summit was created by Kamilah Valentin-Diaz and Allison Staples as their Youth Community Health Action Plan developed at the National 4-H Summit on Healthy Living.
During the day-long “Think Up” Summit (TUS), teens addressed topics such as: Helpful Thinking & Self-Talk; Emotional Recognition & Regulation; Life Problem Solving; Time Management and Mindfulness through Movement. These sessions were based on the curriculum “SensAbility” developed by Beyond Blue in Australia. Seventeen teens attended with two teens as facilitators. Difficult topics were discussed among the teens, meaning that an adult did not have to lead these important conversations.
Most teens rely heavily on their peers for affirmation as opposed to adults and this was true at the TUS. According to ages and stages of 4-H Youth Positive Development, teens need to be encouraged to see their positive self-worth; to be given responsibility and expectations of follow-through; to have a climate that is conducive to peer support; and to have opportunities to plan their own programs. This was all evident at TUS.
Comments from participants showed the impact the program had:
“It changed my perspective on how [to] handle tense situations and actually analyzing the problem and solution.”
“Positive and negative thinking skills really triggered me into learning new things.”
“I will definitely use what I learned in the time management session in my own life because I struggle with that in my life often.”
The “Think Up” Summit was awarded a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation implementation grant of $500. Indiana is part of the Well Connected Communities Initiative.