'Royals United': Hopkins High School students battle growing mental health crisis

December 13, 2018 09:24 PM

Almost two out of every 10 Minnesota students reported long-term mental health, behavioral or emotional problems in 2016, according to the Minnesota Student Survey.

And at Hopkins High School, students are stepping up to help combat the growing concern.

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On Thursday morning, nearly 100 students gathered inside the school auditorium to learn about mental health, and how they can help others access the resources they need.

"I think that it does mirror the amount of people that really care about it because it's a growing concern," said Leah Stillman, a senior helping head-up the initiative. 

"Both nationally, statewide and in our own school." 

"I was diagnosed with depression in fifth grade," added Blair Dec, another senior leading the charge. "It was a big thing for me, being one of those little tiny elementary students."

Her own mental health struggles inspired her to get involved in helping others find the resources available to them.

Dec is now helping recruit students to join the 'Royals United' student advisory board.

It's a student-led peer group spreading the word about mental health resources at the school.

The idea is that if students learn how to talk about mental health between bells, the professionals offering services after school become far more approachable.

"I think the movement itself is amazing," Dec said. "I think it's a wonderful feeling to have hope and to have students supporting one another and helping students get help."

According to the Minnesota Student Survey, 20 percent of students surveyed in the Hopkins junior class in 2016 said they self-harm. Almost 30 percent said they'd seriously considered suicide.

"I really like how we're responding to that," Stillman said. "Not just seeing it and brushing it under the rug, but instead doing something actionable and feasible about it."

"I want to be a helping hand," Dec said. "I want to be someone who can advocate for others or even for myself."

The number of children admitted to hospitals for thoughts of suicide or self-harm have more than doubled in the last decade, according to the Children's Hospital Association.

Ten specifically-trained staff - including social workers, counselors, a school nurse and a school psychologist - are on campus at Hopkins High School every day, and the new Wellness Center at the high school is open after school for students every Monday and Thursday from 2:45 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.

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Credits

Katherine Johnson

Copyright 2018 - KSTP-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

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