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Bayfield High School addressing mental health with ‘Sources of Strength’ program

The front entrance area of Bayfield High School. (Matt Hollinshead/Durango Herald file)

Bayfield High School is making good use of a program aimed at helping students combat mental health struggles.

The school adopted the “Sources of Strength” program in 2018 after its received funding from the Colorado Attorney General and the Office of Suicide Prevention, according to a news release from the Bayfield School District’s website.

“We first started the program to address the growing mental health needs of students at BHS, but we quickly realized that it works best as a support program for everyone within our school, both students and staff,” BHS counselor Jennifer Leithauser said in the release.

The eight sources (called pillars) are laid out on a color wheel that serves as a logo for the program. Those sources are family support (orange), positive friends (yellow), mentors (green), healthy activities (blue), generosity (gray), spirituality (purple), physical health (light blue) and mental health (red), according to the news release.

The program is geared toward creating a healthy culture at school, preventing things like bullying, violence, substance abuse and suicide, the release said.

One of the five core values of the program calls on participants to “work the wheel” in the pursuit of wellness, kindness and strength. A group of peer leaders at BHS helps maintain that focus by meeting every Thursday during the school’s weekly enrichment period, the release said.

The program encourages people to acknowledge that life is a process of continuous learning and growth, the release said.

“Every single human being – the adults in this building, the kids in this building – we are not getting through life without something hard happening,” Leithauser said. “Whether we are to the point of thinking about suicide or not, everybody experiences hard things. These sources of strength are what we want people to use to get through those hard times – any hard times. These sources of strength are going to get people through when life gets hard.”

Ultimately, positive thinking and calling on people to “bring the joy” are key parts of the program, the release said.


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