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West Michigan program addresses mental health issues in area classrooms

Children in Classroom
Wikimedia Commons
Children in Classroom

Proactive approach educates students about warning signs exhibited by classmates. An opportunity to short-circuit potentially violent acts.

The Mental Health Foundation of West Michigan’s flagship program is called Be Nice. At the macrolevel, how we treat one another has effects how someone thinks, acts and feels.

“So, how we treat one another has an effect on someone’s mental health.”

Christy Buck is Executive Director.

“If someone is hammered every day, beat up with people not being kind. Mocking with harassment. Just, picking on them. Someone can be quite sad, quite lonely. It can also bring about anger. So, can I be part of a solution by making my school part of a culture to treat everyone with respect and dignity.”

The micro level, it’s identifying the good in everyone. Buck explains students can pick up on classmate cues. In particular, change. And not always for the good.

“They’ve changed the way they dress. They’ve changed their appearance. Their social media has become dark. Their social media has become violent. This is all out there. It’s not anything that you have to read in whether or not your political views are? This is research.”

These are the clues and warnings. Through the Be Nice program, students learn its okay to make teachers aware. From there, it’s connecting with family members and providing mental health resources that can redirect students.

For more information, benice.org.

Patrick joined WGVU Public Media in December, 2008 after eight years of investigative reporting at Grand Rapids' WOOD-TV8 and three years at WYTV News Channel 33 in Youngstown, Ohio. As News and Public Affairs Director, Patrick manages our daily radio news operation and public interest television programming. An award-winning reporter, Patrick has won multiple Michigan Associated Press Best Reporter/Anchor awards and is a three-time Academy of Television Arts & Sciences EMMY Award winner with 14 nominations.
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