Aimee Schneidewent on peer support for student mental health

Brookfield East High School psychologist Aimee Schneidewent describes the importance of confronting stigma related to youth mental health and efforts by the HOPE Squad to provide support for students.

By Steven Potter | Here & Now

December 12, 2023 • Southeast Region

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Steven Potter:
Why is it important to reduce or eliminate that stigma, so students feel differently about seeking mental health help?

Aimee Schneidewent:
Well, I think it's difficult for students and for staff and families, especially when you feel like you're going through things alone. And when people know that they're not alone and that there are a multiple, you know, number of safe places to go, adults to connect with, that knowing you're not alone really helps people through some crisis situations and some really difficult places.

Steven Potter:
Tell me about the HOPE Squad. What is it?

Aimee Schneidewent:
Yes, so the HOPE Squad, we're in our sixth year here and we're very fortunate because Brookfield East was one of the pioneer schools for the state of Wisconsin, along with Brookfield Central. So both high schools were pioneer schools, and we are also training sites for HOPE Squad. So for schools looking to implement HOPE Squad, they come to us. And so we host and they visit and see what it's like to have one and our students join us in answering questions when schools come to visit. And so we're now in our sixth year and we implemented Hope Squad at the middle school as well. So they're starting their third year. And then both Jenny Katrichis, the school psychologist at Central and myself, we're both master trainers. So we've had the incredible experience of helping schools here in Wisconsin implement their own HOPE Squads and help with the advising support and resources. And so now, in Wisconsin, we're over 150 schools that have HOPE Squads and we're actually, Wisconsin is in the top 10 for states across the country for the number of Hope Squads, which is really exciting.

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