LOOK LISTEN LINK: a health curriculum component for middle school
"During and shortly after receiving the curriculum I had several students come forward to talk to me and to our counselor about their feelings. It was difficult for me as their teacher because I felt like I was causing the children pain. I realized then that I was helping them identify and work through some of their emotions and that they were doing exactly as the curriculum intended by ‘linking’ to a trusted adult."
-- LOOK LISTEN LINK teacher, 2009
LOOK LISTEN LINK is an evaluated, classroom-based prevention curriculum geared for students in 6th, 7th, and 8th grade.
LOOK LISTEN LINK aims to teach students not only facts about stress, anxiety, depression, and suicide prevention, but also practical life skills to help a friend who may be struggling with these issues.
LOOK LISTEN LINK complements our very successful high school suicide prevention curriculum - H.E.L.P. (Helping Every Living Person).
LOOK LISTEN LINK has been evaluated with almost 700 middle school students throughout the State of Washington.
Results showed that as a result of the lessons, students:
- were significantly more knowledgeable about stress and depression; and
- felt much more comfortable in their ability to talk with depressed friends and link them to a trusted adult.
LOOK LISTEN LINK is the the first middle-school level suicide prevention program in the nation earning “Best Practice” status from the Suicide Prevention Resource Center (SPRC). A listing on SPRC’s Best Practices Registry means that the curriculum has been rigorously reviewed and passed federal standards.
Suggested First Steps...
Suicide prevention education is most effective when part of a comprehensive, school-wide approach. We encourage teachers to follow this checklist of activities before teaching LOOK LISTEN LINK or H.E.L.P.:
- Check with the principal or school counselor to see if there is a written crisis plan that includes protocols for responding to suicidal behavior.
- Remind teachers and school staff (via memo or short – 5 minute – announcement) of their responsibilities to take a student’s suicide risk seriously and to refer to the school counselor (or other identified personnel).
- If within the past 18 months there has not been an educational presentation for faculty and staff on recognizing the warning signs for depression and suicide and the steps for intervening, you should encourage the principal to make that a priority.
- Check with the nurse and school counselor to confirm that community resources for suicidal behavior have been identified and that they are willing to make those referrals.
- Check with the PTA president about scheduling a parent education program on stress, depression, self-harm and/or suicide prevention.
Curriculum ComponentsLOOK LISTEN LINK consists of four 45-minute lessons, designed for middle school teachers to easily embed in their health, social skills, or family life curricula during the school year. Students engage in interactive exercises, classroom discussions, role-play practice and observation through the accompanying DVD.
YSPP contracted with North by Northwest Productions to create our own curriculum DVD with students from the Puget Sound area. See it here:
Lesson 1: STRESS and ANXIETY
Gives students a framework for how STRESS and ANXIETY impact their lives and how they can relieve stress in some simple ways
Lesson 2: DEALING with STRESS and ANXIETY
Provides students with a deeper understanding of healthy ways to deal with stress and anxiety and allows them to explore how to help a friend who is under a lot of stress
Lesson 3: TEEN DEPRESSION
Gives students a complete picture of how teens experience depression and how to address the issue in their friends
Lesson 4: SUICIDE PREVENTION / SKILL PRACTICE
Introduces facts about the warning signs for suicide and emphasizes how to help a friend by using the skills of looking and listening for those warning signs and linking a friend to a trusted adult
What kids are saying after receiving LOOK LISTEN LINK:
~ You need to look at your friends to see if they appear sad or stressed out, then listen to the words they say to see if there are any warnings. Then you need to link them to help so they can feel better. If you don’t then it might just get worse.
~ I would tell an upset friend ‘You’re my friend and I care.’ An adult could help them. If you don’t link them then they might commit suicide.
What teachers are saying about teaching LOOK LISTEN LINK:
~ I found the LOOK LISTEN LINK Curriculum to be sequenced well and structured appropriately for the middle school age group. My students were thoroughly engaged in the lessons and activities. At first I was anxious about how they would respond to the lessons (would there be nervous laughter, inappropriate comments, deafening silence, etc.?). I felt more and more energized about the lessons myself when I saw how positively my students were responding.
~ LOOK LISTEN LINK was a fantastic curriculum for my 8th grade classes. I feel like students really did learn how to be aware of each other's actions and words to begin knowing how to look after their friends. In addition, they took "linking" to heart and have since been more open with adults in our school community about tough issues. This curriculum is very appropriately aimed at young adults before they enter high school and I look forward to teaching it again in the future.
What counselors are saying:
~ I wanted the LOOK LISTEN LINK Curriculum taught at my school because I see first-hand the struggles kids have with managing their own stress, dealing with depression while not wanting to talk about it, and their friends wanting to help but not knowing how. LOOK LISTEN LINK teaches students that both peers and adults have important roles in helping a depressed or suicidal youth. I especially like that the curriculum gives practical skills that empower young people to know what to do if they’re worried about a friend.
~ When you look at what statistics show us regarding Native American youth and suicide rates, it shows that this population has the highest rate of suicide in the country when compared to other youth. We need to be honest with them that depression is an illness that’s a factor in most youth suicides and a lot of young people deal with it. I want our students to learn that talking to someone about their own or a friend’s problem doesn't make them weak or disloyal but, in fact, strong and helpful.
- teacher resources
- lesson plans
- student worksheets
For any questions or for more information, please contact YSPP at firstname.lastname@example.org.