Sources of Strength advocates for positive mental health

Sources of Strength held annual training for their peer leaders.

Heran Essayas, Reporter

McLean’s Sources of Strength had a peer training that was open to all on Monday, Oct. 8, to prepare students on how to spread kindness around their community. At their training, they do activities that instruct students and faculty to be aware of factors that influence positive behavior.

“[We] train students to be peer leaders, and those peer leaders serve as connectors to  

the rest of the student population and conduct messaging campaigns,” said Systems of Support Adviser Nick Corsi, sponsor of Sources of Strength.

The training that takes place every year focuses on giving students skills that will help create a positive environment, and influence students to spread those skills.

“[We] retrain current peer leaders and new ones to look for warning signs to know when your friends are under distress,” Corsi said.

Sources of Strength is an evidence-based suicide-prevention program that focuses on spreading hope, help and strength. They also focus on finding positive factors, things that relieve stress from people, and encourage students to join clubs and play sports.

“[First, people] identify what is creating stress and anxiety then [they can] start talking about solutions. [Then we determine] what we can as an organization do at McLean to help alleviate some of those stressors for students, even something as small as therapy dogs. It’s about finding ways to respond to student issues in a positive way,” Corsi said.

This year, the club plans on emphasizing spreading kindness in school, and in the community. Corsi wants students to be able to find a teacher mentor in the school that they feel comfortable talking to, which he believes will change the environment at McLean.

“At McLean, we’ve always had a community that spreads hope and is self-aware of their

mental health. This is something you have to continuously reinforce because some students do not feel comfortable sharing stressful things in their life. Our peer leaders have done a good job helping students open up and reach out to adults for help,” Corsi said.

This is the third year of the club, and they have already trained 80 students and 20 faculty members and also spread the club to Longfellow Middle School. The Longfellow and McLean school district is the only one in the entire country where Sources of Strength is present in both the middle and high school.

Having Sources of Strength in Longfellow allows for freshmen to come to McLean with the training for the club, and allows Sources of Strength to focus on addressing the current mental health problems in McLean.

The club meets every Highlander Time 8 in the Lecture Hall, and is open for anyone to join. At the meetings, they focus on planning campaigns, such as having motivational speakers and bringing therapy dogs.

“The more students we can train as an agent of change, the greater impact we can have on the community as a whole,” Corsi said.