New program encourages students to find their own source of strength


The eight areas on the wheel represent resources we can all use to face tough times.

Caitlin Samargian, Staff Writer

When a teen suicide occurs, family and friends are often left wondering why and what they could have done differently.

However, some researchers at the University Of Rochester decided to take a new perspective on the issue. The question they want to ask is, “How do we help teens cope with tough times so that they don’t even consider suicide?”

Their research yielded eight different areas or sources of strength that teens use to cope with difficulty.

The program Sources of Strength is said to “strengthen how teens handle depression, stress, and other problems by training influential ‘peer leaders’ who work to change coping practices in their friendship networks,” said Peter Wyman, associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Rochester.

Peer leaders have been trained here at GHS. In the coming weeks and months, they hope to share these tools with other students.

The Sources of Strength include medical access, mental health, family support, positive friends, mentors, healthy activities, generosity and spirituality.

Two peer leaders shared their personal sources of strength.

Allise Barreto, senior, states that many portions of the wheel help her when she’s down. Barreto is on the school’s basketball, softball and football team.

“Healthy activities take your mind off of stuff if you’re stressed,” she said.

During football season talking to a trusted adult helped her through a very tough day. Barreto said that friends and teammates also play a big role in keeping her head high.

For senior Katelynn Jaroszewski, family support is her main source of strength. “My mom is the most influential person through any tough time for me,” she said. “She’s like my best friend and I tell her everything; she knows everything about me,” Jaroszewski’s mother is her own personal strength when she needs it.

Stay tuned for additional news and activities about Sources of Strength.

Program Background

In 2006, researchers at the University of Rochester implemented the program Sources of Strength in urban, rural and tribal settings across the nation.

Peter Wyman, associate professor of Psychiatry at the University of Rochester, was awarded five years and a three million dollar grant by the Institute of Mental Help for his progress in the program.

The original idea for students to encourage friends to seek adult help started in North Dakota in the late 1900s by Mark LoMurray. He attempted to change the perception of what typical coping behavior for teens is in an emotional crisis are.

Peer leaders are trained to encourage friends and connect them with trusted adults in order to strengthen the adult communication ties. They’re also taught to encourage and reinforce the ideas of finding adults for friends to find their source of strength.