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School Board Approves Robust Mental Health Curriculum

The Bloomfield Hills School Board recently approved the Prepare U mental health curriculum for all health classes at Bloomfield Hills High School. Prepare U has been piloted this year and found to be successful. Kathy Abbott, BHHS Health Teacher, noted, “The Prepare U curriculum fits the needs of our students within the Health Education curriculum, including interactive videos and experiential activities that address important mental health topics.”

Health is a one-semester class that is taken as a graduation requirement for all students at BHHS. The documented rise in mental health concerns and issues among students in high school led Bloomfield Hills Schools to incorporate that focus into the class. “Although the Bloomfield Hills Schools has had a long history of academic rigor,” explained Abbott, “they also understand the importance of mental health within our community, especially for our children. The Health Education curriculum has had a stress management/suicide and violence prevention component since the early 1980s, but the Prepare U curriculum presents a professional, polished package on mental health that fits our needs today.”

According to Margaret Schultz, BHS Administrator for Social Emotional Learning and Educational Equity, Prepare U was chosen over several curriculums as the final recommendation to the School Board. “First of all,” noted Schultz, “it is built specifically to be student centered and teacher facilitated. The lessons are designed for students to be speaking most of the time, so it aligns closely with how Bloomfield Hills Schools is moving in terms of instruction. Also, the program relies on the stories of individual students and gives students a lot of choice in how and what they share. The structure of the program starts by building relationships among the class, and a community where students feel they can share their stories

Abbott echoed this personal aspect to the Prepare U lessons. In particular, Abbott said, “Students really enjoyed the interactive relationship game, where each student had a ‘not-knowing card’ on their forehead of a potential challenging teen situation, and other students had to react to how they might help that person, which built trust and communication.” 

Quantitative data was added to the recommendation process through student surveys. Said Schultz, “I think it's important to know that overall our students were very responsive to the program. In our survey of students, a significant number of students expressed that they were using the skills that they had learned through the program. Many also stated that their mental health had improved, and that they had a much better awareness and understanding of mental health. We are excited about the impact over this first year, and are looking forward to continuing that growth.”

There are 15 classes in the prepareU program:

  • Personal narrative and mentalization 

  • Personality and Biopsychosocial

  • Biopsychosocial Reflection

  • Cognition and Behavior

  • Anxiety and Stress

  • Anger

  • Suicide

  • Family Systems and Grief

  • Mental Health and Stigma

  • Social Media and Technology

  • Relationships (2 classes)

  • Meaningful Engagements

  • It's Okay to Make Mistakes

Schultz, commending the School Board for its leadership in approving the expenditure, said, “I am thankful that the Board of Education continues to support programs focused on emotional safety and well-being for our students. “By supporting the purchase, they are showing their continued commitment to safety and security that is centered on supporting our students emotionally as well as physically.”

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