LPS students foster mental wellness through Hope Squads

Lincoln Public Schools secondary students are stepping up to help spread mental health awareness, support and hope through a new district-wide initiative. 

LPS launched Hope Squads at the middle and high school levels this spring. 

Hope Squads are peer support teams that foster mental wellness by increasing connections among students with peers and adults, providing information on suicide awareness, and encouraging hope and resilience.

“Hope Squads have been active in some LPS schools prior to this school year, but last spring we secured grant funds to support the training of advisors in all LPS middle and high schools,” Lori Hemmett said, LPS supervisor for counseling and social work. “We are very excited to shed light on the importance of mental health while offering support to students who may be struggling.”

LPS Hope Squads held activities in their schools to increase visibility and teach their peers about available resources on April 27 during LPS Hope Day. 

At Lefler Middle School, Hope Squad students set up a table during lunch where students and staff could write on a paper chain link something that gives them hope. They were then able to take a handout that included a Lifesavers candy, information about the Hope Squad, and the number for the National Suicide Prevention Hotline.

Students involved said they’re looking forward to helping their fellow classmates and connecting them with resources.

“It means a lot to me,” Mia said, a sixth grade Hope Squad member. “I just hope we can make everyone happy and make sure they have hope in their life.”

Students often reach out to one another for help and talk about things upsetting them. These peer-led support groups aid in getting students to caring adults who can further assist their mental health needs. Students involved in Hope Squad are nominated by their peers, and then receive permission from their parent or guardian to participate. 

“It felt really good that my classmates knew that I was someone who could be trusted,” said Isaac, a seventh grade Hope Squad member.

Andrea Phillips, LPS social work coordinator, says establishing Hope Squads assists in Lincoln Public Schools’ greater mission of supporting all students.

“Supporting students means supporting the whole student, which includes their mental health,” Phillips said. “Because we know that mental health is significantly impacting students, part of supporting them is to educate them about mental health, protective factors and how to find support.”

May is Mental Health Awareness Month.  When students feel supported, they can best achieve. Follow LPS on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram as we will be sharing helpful information surrounding mental health all month.  

If you or someone you know is struggling, there is hope. We can help connect you to resources for support.

Connect with your school’s Hope Squad, a trusted staff member, or use any of these resources available day or night.

CenterPointe Helpline (Lincoln): 402-475-6695
Nebraska Family Helpline: 1-888-866-8660
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 9-8-8 or 1-800-273-8255
Your Life Your Voice (Boys Town)  1-800-448-3000 or text VOICE to 20121 (text charges from your phone carrier may apply)
Safe2HelpNe.org or call 833-980-SAFE(7233)

Check out some highlights from Lefler's Hope Day below.

Published: May 8, 2023, Updated: May 9, 2023

Lefler Middle School's Hope Squad assembles encouraging messages from peers and staff for a