by HEIDI GRUBER '23
Over the past few years, Hope Squad has only consisted of a select few members that have been chosen by the SUA community. This year, Hope Squad was given a new look. It was opened to all of the SUA students to participate in looking out for their peers and spreading awareness of mental health issues. At the tail end of Hope Week, 31 members gave their own personal reflections about what Hope Squad is all about. Since these responses were personal, the names of the members being quoted are kept anonymous.
How would you describe the purpose of Hope Squad?
One student response was “to provide support and a helping hand to those struggling with anything hard, especially mental illness.” Another student saw the purpose of Hope Squad is “to educate people about mental health and prevent suicide.” Another member embraced the group's purpose: “Hope Squad is to help students at Saint Ursula Academy feel heard and loved.” These are just a few out of the many responses. The variety of responses of Hope Squad’s purpose showcases the enlargement of their reach and overall goal, which is to overall strengthen the SUA community and sisterhood.
What are some goals for Hope Squad this year?
A student answered that “a goal for the hope squad is to make the sua community feel surrounded by love and support, no matter what they are going through.” Another student said that a goal for Hope Squad was to “de-stigmatize mental health!!” Another quote from a student was that “outreach is super important, since our program relies so much on connecting both with individuals and the student body as a whole. As a member of the social media committee, we're walking a line between education and positivity-based content, which can be a tough balance.”
A central goal of Hope Squad is to embrace the SUA community, resulting in each student feeling the love and support they need to grow as an individual. For the members, an important aspect is their outreach. Many members expressed one of their biggest goals was to not only educate students on mental health but also remind them that they are worth so much more than their struggles. Due to the world’s perception of the realities of mental health, many are afraid and unaware of how serious and real these problems can be. A key component of Hope Squad’s mission is to “de-stigmatize” mental health and create an environment where mental wellness discussions are prevalent in the conversation and welcomed.
What was a reason you wanted to join Hope Squad?
A response from a member was “to help people because I know how it feels to feel lost.” Another member’s reason was that she “has struggled with her mental health, but has felt timid to talk about it because I do not want to appear ‘weak.’ But I think that it is important to change the stigma around mental health.” In addition to changing the stigma, another member’s reason was that “mental health has always been a big thing in my life and is something that I have always felt strongly about. As soon as I started at SUA and heard about Hope Squad and what they were doing, I immediately knew it was something I wanted to be a part of.”
The motivations behind Hope Squad come from a very personal background. Each member has the purpose to confront mental health issues at the individual level. I think another important aspect is how many members have struggled with some of the same issues they are trying to spread awareness of. There are many reasons members gave for joining Hope Squad but a common factor is to spread support to all students and promote mental wellness.
Why do you think the promotion of mental health is important?
One student saw that the promotion of mental health is important because “it’s put aside as just a phase or no one’s there to truly listen which causes other’s symptoms to increase. It’s so important that these people have a friend to talk to and acknowledge how they’re feeling.” Another member enthusiastically answered it was “to let people know they are NEVER alone!” In a similar way, another quote expressed that “a lot of people believe that they are alone and by having an open conversation, people will hopefully feel more comfortable getting the help they need.”
Throughout history, mental health has been pushed aside. Whether it is due to a lack of knowledge or a perception of weakness, this issue has never been at the forefront of society. Hope Squad wants to change that. They want people to know that whatever they are going through does not define them and there is always someone there willing to help. Mental health is vital to the whole person developing and it is part of our Ursuline values to not only help grow the whole person but also support them through their development.
Hope Squad tackles the battle mental illness really is and wants to make known to anyone struggling that they are never alone. To anyone who is battling with any issues, always feel free to reach out to one of these girls and they will be more than happy to help you and support you. You truly are never alone and the SUA community, especially the Hope Squad, wants you to know that you are worthy, loved, and deserving of all the happiness life can give you.
You can find more information on Hope Squad here.