Mercy High School, an all-girls college preparatory school in Farmington Hills, MI, is the first Catholic school in the country to complete the Prepare U mental health curriculum. The evidence-supported, experiential program is being taught at dozens of schools across Michigan and nine other states. Approximately 100 young women took part in the 15-class program, facilitated by Mercy’s 10th grade health teachers.
“With Catholic education, we’re really in support of our students’ needs. We really strive to take our mission and values and align student needs to that. So, [Prepare U] was a really good fit,” said Mercy High School principal Patricia Sattler. “A strength at Mercy is student voice. In preparing them for college, we knew we had to find a place within the curriculum where our students could learn these skills and practice with them in a safe environment prior to leaving Mercy and going to college.”
Prepare U tackles tough topics from addiction and abuse to social media and bullying. Students participate in a series of classroom exercises and discussions about the issues they encounter every day, including:
- Healthy and unhealthy coping styles
- Identifying stressors that can lead to intense anger
- Getting help and assisting peers struggling with suicidal thoughts
- Addressing feelings of grief or loss
- Social media and the role it plays in students’ lives
- The characteristics of healthy and unhealthy relationships, and more.
“Bridging the gap and stigma between religion and mental health has been historically one of the most challenging hurdles to overcome when it comes to normalizing that mental health is a critical part of every person’s life,” said Ryan Beale, a therapist and creator of Prepare U. “We applaud Mercy for taking the important step of adopting our curriculum. The results were dramatic with students reporting an increased sense of meaning and purpose and decreased negative symptoms of anxiety and trauma.”
15-year-old Raegan is one of the students who took part in the program. She struggles with anxiety and says Prepare U helped improve her relationships with classmates and teachers. It also helped open up a dialogue with her parents at home.
“It started discussions for my family,” she says. “It’s given us more stuff to talk about, more meaningful conversations.”
All participants also received free access to Prepare U’s Home Edition, an online tool designed to help build healthier relationships within families so today’s youth have more support. Each session in Prepare U’s home edition includes a video, a brief digital workbook, downloadable activities and a personal insight tracker.
“The ultimate goal of Prepare U – from our in-school classes to our home edition – is to reduce suffering among young people and break the unhealthy survival patterns that adversely affect them for the rest of their lives,” added Beale.
The best news of all is that students participating in the 15-class program at Mercy reported a significant decrease in anxiety and psychological stress and an increased feeling of emotional support based on surveys taken after completing Prepare U.
To learn more about Prepare U, visit: PrepareU.Live or call (844) 724-5483 extension 3. To learn more about the Prepare U Home Edition, visit: https://www.prepareu.live/home_edition.