Character strong


Lola Duytschaver, Staff Reporter

Teen mental health is an increasingly large cause for concern for students ages 12 and up, causing the district of Manatee County to enact a new mental health curriculum in various middle and high schools in the area.

The “Character Strong” program provides students with a step-by-step video curriculum to better their mental health and well- being. These videos include key lessons such as leadership, emotional regulation, and empathy which are not only traits that are vital to life after high school, but these lessons are taught in a relatable and understanding way.

It is reported in global statistics that approximately one in five teens, ages 12-18, are suffering from at least one mental disorder. This program’s main objective is to instill feelings of well-being, belonging, and active engagement for students. They do this by setting a goal for each age group, and basing their video lessons off of that said goal.

Ninth graders learn belonging, and how to create a school where everyone feels included. 1oth graders learn how to cultivate well-being in their lives as well as the lives of others. 11th graders gain knowledge on what they can do to fully engage themselves in the present and future, and 12th graders utilize how to build a world through personal influence and teamwork.

However, many students tend to disagree with the effectiveness of the past programs.

One being junior Emma Winfield. Winfield takes a multitude of AP classes and participates in many demanding extra curriculars including both women’s soccer and lacrosse as well as student council. Winfield’s perspective on the “mental health Mondays” our school had in place is that it’s overall ineffective for students with overwhelming amounts of stress or ones that are battling mental health problems.

Winfield states, “I feel like they don’t do enough particularly for the kids that need them. I feel that the school overlooks the kids that are struggling with real mental health issues and a bunch of ambiguous videos aren’t going to help.”

In response to Winfield’s and many other students disdain for the past mental health programs, the new “character strong” initiative is said to be a large improvement.

Using this program “key ingredients” being, “emotional understanding, empathy, values, goals, leadership, emotional regulation, compassion, purpose, and teamwork.”

They generate a straight forward learning program built on relevancy and relatability for all students to enjoy.