“By utilizing a Friday night football game, the Hope Squad can get lots of literature in the hands of people that will hopefully help someone in need,” said Beadle.
The game kicks off at 7 p.m. and Middletown High School Hope Squad members will hand out mental health awareness items to people as they enter the gates at 6:30 p.m. Officials will recognize both schools’ Hope Squads on the field during halftime.
The climbing trend of teens suffering from mental health challenges was worsening even before the onset the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020 and the isolation and stress brought on by the historic virus has seen more youth suffering from anxiety and depression.
According to a recent National Institute of Mental Health study an estimated 4.1 million adolescents aged 12 to 17 in the United States had at least one major depressive episode. This number represented 17.0% of the U.S. population aged 12 to 17.
The study also reported the prevalence of major depressive episode was higher among adolescent females (25.2%) compared to males (9.2%).
There is both strength and hope in numbers, said Justin Dennis, AP psychology teacher and Hope Squad advisor at Lakota East.
“The idea that mental health is a personal struggle we are burdened to carry alone is wrong. By joining together with Middletown or in any way we can, we show that no one struggles alone and that the community has a role to play in helping our students, families and friends through tough times,” said Dennis.
“I’m proud of what our students are doing in our schools to lead this change and I feel hopeful that the future of mental health in the community has a much bigger priority. This night will be about showing unity, advocacy and that mental health is a joint effort across all communities.”