West Bloomfield High School implements mandatory mental health training program to help students

Program teaches coping skills, empathy, how to spot warning signs of violence

WEST BLOOMFIELD, Mich. – A new mandatory program at West Bloomfield High School is giving students mental health training.

The program teaches coping skills, empathy and how to spot the warning signs of potential threats of violence in school.

Related: Suicide prevention support and mental health resources available in US

"We realized that, if students have a little setback, they don't have the coping skills to deal with it," Principal Pat Watson said.

West Bloomfield High School graduate Ryan Beale created the mental health training, called "Prepare-U," after he lost his brother to suicide.

"Part of my journey was based on wanting to do more to educate the public that there's so much more you can do, especially at this level, at this critical intervention point between 13 and 15, where research shows there's a high increase in mortality due to behavioral health issues in this age group," Beale said. "And they go into lifelong issues; almost 80 percent of them will never seek care." 

Watson said he believes making the program mandatory is the smartest choice he has ever made professionally and he hopes other schools follow the lead.

"I think there's always been a need for this. I just think a lot of people turn a blind eye to it," freshman Ilonia Losey said.