BEAVER FALLS, Pa. - Beaver County is taking a new approach to helping students deal with depression and anxiety.
Officials are training teenagers how to help their fellow students.
Beaver Falls High School students are a part of a countywide initiative to get students more comfortable talking about those kinds of issues.
"It's more needed to have information and support because (of) the rate of suicide in teens," senior Sydney Smith said.
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The young people are part of the Youth Ambassador Program, which equips student ambassadors in every Beaver County school district with the tools they need to raise awareness about mental health and build peer-to-peer support networks at their schools.
"When you're a kid, you might feel more comfortable talking with someone who's a peer rather than your parent, because you might feel like they might not understand it like someone your age would," junior Jimmy Carbone said.
This is the first time the program has been offered in Beaver County.
"I think that is helping stop the stigma,” junior Marisa Santillo said. “Just spread awareness about it and let people know it's OK if they need someone to talk to and they don't have to keep it inside."
The program is funded by a grant; it's free for schools to participate and it aims to enhance school-based mental health services already in place.
The program's organizers say that's key because this is a critical time to reach students.
"We wanted to take an opportunity to present accurate, clear and concise information to them so that they would hopefully be able to understand it, and then go back in and be change agents in their districts," said Susan Smith with the Beaver County Rehabilitation Center.
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