Healthy Teen Minds in Winnebago, Outagamie & Calumet Counties

Advancing Behavioral Health Initiative Phase II: Reducing the number of students at risk for or are experiencing depression

Full Project Name:Healthy Teen MindsPrimary Community Organization:Winnebago County Health DepartmentPrimary Academic Partner:Michelle Broaddus, PhD, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral MedicineAward Amount:$1,000,000
Award Date
Project Duration:60 months

Project Description Narrative:

Advancing Behavioral Health Initiative Phase II

High rates of teen depression and suicide-related behaviors among youth in Calumet, Outagamie and Winnebago counties is a serious public health issue in the tri-county region. County-level Youth Risk Behavior Survey data indicate that area youth are attempting suicide at nearly twice the rate of the state and national average. Depression is the No. 1 risk factor for suicide. Currently, 24.6% of tri-county teens surveyed reported being sad or hopeless, a rate the this been slowly increasing for several years.

This project aims to reverse that trend, reducing the number of students in grades 9-12 who are at risk for or who are experiencing depression by 20% (from 24.6% to 19.7%) by June 2022 by:

  • Improving the school climate by increasing social connectedness for students through building relationships with peers and trusted adults
  • Implementing programs aimed at developing healthy coping skills from an early age as well as creating an environment that supports healthy sleep among adolescents
  • Screening for signs and symptoms of mental health challenges as a necessary step to address and improve mental health by identifying those who have or are at risk for having depression and also referring them to services
  • Connecting youth who have or are at risk for having depression to mental health services in the community by increasing use of help-seeking resources and by developing a local, user-friendly service navigation website


This project is part of AHW's Advancing Behavioral Health Initiative, an eight-year, $20 million initiative bringing together 10 community coalitions from across Wisconsin to address pressing mental health needs within their communities. The initiative is designed in three phases, providing a funded planning year, a five-year implementation period, and a two-year sustainable transformation phase.

Project Updates:

  • Implemented Sources of Strength (Sources), an evidence-based suicide prevention and mental wellness program that engages peer leaders and adult advisors in changing the culture and reinforcing positive social norms around hope, resiliency, and a sense of connectedness to peers and adults. Established the program at 18 public middle and high schools in the tri-county region, including expanding the program to a fourth cohort of schools
  • Began data collection on outcomes of coalition's work, with initial analysis of student surveys reporting an improvement in peer-to-peer relationships in their schools, demontration of more positive attitudes toward the need to intervene when a friend was suicidal and to do so by seeking adult help, and reports of feeling stronger connections to trusted adults at school
  • Developed a second trained-trainer for Sources to keep up with the demand for the program and to provide ongoing support to schools, successfully shifting to a virtual training platform during the COVID-19 pandemic; established a monthly support system for Sources adult advisors to provide resources, tips, and advice for responding to the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Launched a 2018 campaign, called "Teens Need Zzz's," that focused on the connection of sleep and mental health and engaged a student marketing team in its creation; convened a teen sleep workgroup with diverse representation
  • Established a Network of Care website for the tri-county area to provide a one-stop shop for mental health and substance abuse information, resources, and service navigation in Brown, Calumet, Outagamie, and Winnebago Counties, documenting in one year more than 59,000 visits to the website. The website continues to average 220 visits per day, with individuals using the anonymous online screener that includes a youth mental health screener. Continued to promote the website through social media, word-of-mouth, and print materials that include wallet cards and posters, and added COVID-19 related mental health resources during the pandemic
  • Launched a dedicated web page focused on connecting adult men to mental health supports
  • Formed an LGBTQ workgroup that includes a diverse group of LGBTQ community advocates to develop school-based strategies and tactics to support LGBTQ teens, improve school climate for these students, build connections to trusted adults, and impact the higher rates of depression and suicidal behaviors among this population
  • Developed a data strategy to coach schools around better data-driven decision making as they evaluate existing programs, monitor for fidelity, and measure outcomes

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