1) What is the Power of PATH: Building Resilience for Mental Health and Suicide Awareness Curriculum™ and what is its main focus?
This curriculum is Tasha Schuh’s response to the need for mental health and suicide awareness education. After many school presentations in her speaking career, Tasha and her team of professionals created a six-lesson curriculum designed to be delivered by a qualified teacher within grades 6 - 12. The curriculum is a mix of teacher instructions, student handouts, YouTube and short Impact Videos, peer empathy-building activities, projects and student surveys, along with support from Tasha herself to ensure teacher facilitation of the online program.
The curriculum focuses on Tasha’s special acronym of PATH: PURPOSE, ATTITUDE, TEAM and HOPE. The lessons have been developed for ease in teacher and student comprehension, cohesive progression in scope and sequence, and simplicity for teacher delivery. The curriculum complements Tasha’s large group keynote presentation, yet thanks to Impact Video #1, (a core piece of Lesson 1), the curriculum may be implemented at your school without a personal visit from Tasha.
2) Who created the curriculum?
The curriculum was developed by Tasha along with a team of professionals, including a 35-year veteran public school teacher and a mental health counseling professional (CMHC). Tasha also employed a publishing team (editor, graphic designer, videographer) to focus on the format and delivery of colorful, engaging content, including graphic organizers, video content, PowerPoint / Google slides, all with a clear, concise outline for instructor ease. Tasha’s mission for a credible, understandable, and impactful curriculum has been over two years in the making. Piloted in a variety of schools, the curriculum has responded directly to school feedback, and it is now available to schools everywhere, at a price that ensures its affordability for all.
3) Expanding on mental and emotional health sounds like a huge budget undertaking? How can my school afford this?
The curriculum is priced to be affordable to every school: a $799 one-time fee for the curriculum includes middle AND high school lessons at one price. However, if your district cannot afford this, consider these options for payment:
- Ask your school Parent Club to fund this
- Consider local grants
Inquire about State grants: for example, Wisconsin has a new “School based Mental Health Grant” application available on the DPI website - https://dpi.wi.gov/sspw/mental-health/school-based-grant-program
Search Grants.gov using the key words “Suicide Prevention” to find educational grants to help with your buget for the curriculum
Ask an administrator for grant ideas. Most districts have an employee delegated to the task of finding creative ways to support a school’s budget with special search privileges on non-profit or NGO websites. RHIhub has a grant available to invite a speaker, like Tasha Schuh, with funding allocated for follow-up, like the curriculum.
- PATH Curriculum fulfills requirements for Title IV funding - see details below under 4).
You may find that this is the best $799 you have ever spent. Please don’t judge the quality based on the price. The curriculum was designed to touch the lives of every student.
The per-student cost is very low! This is due to Tasha’s mission that Logan’s legacy save lives. Tasha gathered the most professional and caring team possible, and all agreed to help create a professional curriculum of the highest quality for students, at the fraction of the price most curriculum developers would have to charge. The goal is to reach EVERYONE. That being said, we recognize that some budgets are so tight, a search for grants regarding mental health programming for students may allow a district to add the curriculum at no price to you.
Tasha’s team made a pledge to contribute their best efforts to offer this at a price that makes it accessible to all schools.
4) Does the PATH Curriculum fulfill requirements for Title IV?
PATH Curriculum fulfills requirements for Title IV funding in a number of ways:
- It is a comprehensive school mental and behavioral health curriculum
- It includes methods and tools to address bullying and harassment prevention
- It is a comprehensive approach to social and emotional learning
- School safety and school climate are inclusive in the goals for a PATH Curriculum school
My wording is directly addressing the bullet points found on this website: National Association of School Psychologists (NASP)
ESSA Title IV Funding Opportunities
“Districts must use at least 20% of these funds on efforts to improve student mental and behavioral health, school climate, or school safety, which could include:
- comprehensive school mental and behavioral health service delivery systems,
- trauma informed policies and practices,
- bullying and harassment prevention,
- social–emotional learning,
- improving school safety and school climate,
- mental health first aid training, and
- professional development activities.”
5) My annual budget is already spent on requirements like books and computers. How can I budget for something when I am already spending my max?
Ask. You might be surprised that the money is available...
Budgets often delegate a dollar amount to departments, or for categories like “School Improvement,” so inquiry into who could be delegated this expense is worthy of your time. Talk with your administration about possible funding allocated for a new curriculum. For instance:
Counseling dept. / school counselors who do drop-in lessons within regular education classrooms
Advisory classes - regular education teachers often have groups of students delegated to their classrooms for one period of enrichment coursework, like this curriculum
Health education and physical education instructors who deliver broad-field content regarding student health
Homeroom periods where teachers often supervise study support (study halls) and build rapport with a close-knit group of students
Alternative Education classrooms - paraprofessional and alt-ed instructors need resources delegated for skills improvement using unique or alternative education strategies
These and other departments / subdivisions may have funding available that you are not aware of. So, ask! Please “team it” with building and district financial planners, or other administration who work under the umbrella of school budgets, to inquire about funding options.
6) Why should students learn about mental health and suicide awareness?
Growing numbers regarding depression, substance abuse, and violence toward oneself and others are linked to mental and emotional health behaviors. In the United States, surging statistics, (see NIMH), including attempted suicides and suicide deaths among young people, (ages 10-24), are on the rise even though they are considered preventable. According to the CDC, “In 2018, suicide took more than 47,000 lives, with rates increasing 35% since 1999. Suicide has devastating consequences on individuals, families, schools/workplaces, and entire communities.” The tragic loss felt when someone you love dies by suicide impacts far more than the individual who took the action to end his or her life. Suicide leads to devastation for those left behind to cope with the loss.
Fact-based content like that offered in the curriculum can be two-fold in its strength to help save lives - first, in the students’ discovery that we are not alone. The curriculum unites students in their awareness that mental and emotional growth is a struggle for many people, and that resilience is acquired over time with experience in overcoming struggles. Tasha Schuh demonstrates this well with her personal story of overcoming the challenges of a sudden life change becoming a quadriplegic. She shares what she now calls PATH-- that set of tools that assists her to face life’s set-backs, without turning to destructive devices that deepen rather than assist with problems. Secondly, for students who lack understanding of the struggles their classmates may be experiencing with mental or emotional health, empathy is key. Compassion, kindness, and sensitivity must be practiced so when our peers show a need for support, we can activate the capacity and skill-set to help. Few traditional Health education courses provide enough depth and practice for this. Tasha’s mission is to address the mental health crisis in America by starting young-- with students who can build a set of skills in a needed human growth area for generations to come. School data also shows that when we bring the mental health services into the schools, students comply and have more success. This curriculum is designed for ALL students which will serve to complement supports that are already individualized through counseling and therapy services.
Below are supporting articles:
7) Does your curriculum include social/emotional skills?
Yes, our curriculum's six lessons, or chapters, focus on social and emotional learning and include the mental health and suicide awareness/prevention content for which so many schools express a great need. Tasha and her team created a flexiible program that is effective and offers depth, yet it is very easy to implement and customize to your situation. The curriculum builds on a foundation based on the acronym PATH (Purpose, Attitude, Team, and Hope), which includes resilience and empathy-building activities/assignments. Other big social/emotional learning topics include, but are not limited to, connectedness, friendship analysis, making Kindness count, balancing emotional highs and lows, and decision making.
Many of the NAMI and CDC endorsed activities are personalized with content based on Tasha's own challenges after an accident left her a quadriplegic. Resilience and adapting to change is not easy, but students can learn to build the skills necessary to face the unexpected and improve their social and emotional well-being in the process.
8) We don’t have time for another curriculum since our Health Education time is so limited. How can I fit your curriculum in? And Who should teach this?
Health educators with limited student contact time should consider, and discuss with your administration, the opportunity of teaming it with other regular-ed and alt-ed teachers. For example, schools often schedule enrichment time through interventions (RTI) and advisory periods. Quite often, teachers are asked to facilitate such student-contact time without a prescribed curriculum. Our curriculum could be implemented by: Counselors, Advisory teachers, Health Education instructors, Alt.Ed. teachers and paraprofessionals within any of these areas. In addition to public school staff, our curriculum could be implemented by any adult or trained/supervised Peer Leader with the mission to increase student understanding of mental/emotional health with a targeted goal of decreasing suicide, suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts. In the process, these facilitators will reinforce empathy, build resilience, and enlighten participants on the resources and help already available through social media, the CDC website, and other mental health advocates/resources. Our curriculum will stress connectedness as a preventative when faced with mental/emotional health challenges. Thus small group implementation, like an advisory or enrichment period, works well.
Any adult assigned to lead middle and high school level students, ideally within grade 6 - 12. Teachers/leaders will find the curriculum a “ready to go” program. For example, teachers with classtime related to any of these topics will find the curriculum a valuable and engaging way to confront mental health and suicide awareness:
- Health education
- Anti-bullying initiatives
- School counselors
- Homeroom teachers
- Character education
- Enrichment time
- Grade level leaders
- Alternative education initiatives
- Peer-to-peer or human relations
- ELA (many of the Bonus materials are readings and excerpts from Tasha Schuh’s books, with instructions on utilizing Readers Theater strategies)
- Science units related to the human body, psychology, or growth mindset
9) How has this curriculum been tested in real classrooms?
This curriculum has been piloted in six schools, in a variety of ways, at various stages during its development. In addition, our local school district has teamed with us, including some of our "Contributors", the Ellsworth Middle School counselor and teachers, to implement much of the curriculum with 7th and 8th graders within the past two years. Tasha has also implemented many of the lessons through Breakout Sessions at multiple schools where she has spoken to middle and high school students. Much of the research-based content came from CDC, NAMI, AFSP, Mentalhealth.gov and other reliable agencies endorsing PATH's goals and objectives. If needed before purchase, school districts are encouraged to request a full list of Resources-- the complete bibliography included with our curriculum. Simply email Tasha at [email protected] to request this.
10) What are the results of teaching this curriculum?
The results from teaching the curriculum will be varied and ongoing as more districts commit to the depth in the delivery of PATH. Speaking to the results from our pilots and student experiences listed in #7, we can convey that the following is already evident:
Students demonstrate kindness, compassion, and a clearer understanding of the facts regarding suicide awareness.
Students develop a voice to talk openly about mental/emotional health concerns, including suicide.
Teachers from varied backgrounds feel empowered to initiate serious conversations about topics that are often difficult to facilitate.
Students spend more time, thought, and conversation with hands-on active and self-reflective experiences, on the topics related to mental health challenges. PATH strategies provide facts and share CDC, NAMI and other professionally endorsed resources for the highest quality experiences in mental/emotional health education.
Students and teachers offer positive feedback in exit surveys when asked about the impact of Tasha’s PATH strategies.
Schools feel empowered to address the aftermath of a suicide in their schools. However, Tasha’s mission is that PATH is pro-actively implemented BEFORE a tragedy occurs.
Students broadcast the PATH messages of support and empathy via PATH school-wide activities and assignments. Bulletin board samples of PATH promotion are in the curriculum.
Schools use the Social Media resources to promote Tasha’s PATH concepts beyond the classroom walls. Numbers for Tasha’s YouTube Channel, Vlog, and other social media views have increased since PATH began.
11) How long is each of the six lessons?
Each of the six curriculum lessons is long enough to fill a traditional or advisory 20-50 minute class period, but includes bonus materials and extended projects to meet the needs of block scheduling.
12) What does the calendar for the lesson implementation look like?
After receiving feedback from teachers and administration, we had flexibility for scheduling as a top priority when in the development stages of the curriculum. Teachers may apply the six lessons to their calendars in a way that meets their schedules. For example, one lesson per week for six weeks could fulfill the curriculum’s goals. However, lessons could be tackled every day, over the course of a quarter or semester of health or advisory class. Therefore, if all of the curriculum is utilized, a thorough and deepened experience will result. Watch for updates: Sample Calendars with lesson plan pacing will be posted soon for you to use or tweak to your individual pace and sequence.
13) Is PATH Evidence-Based?
Yes. PATH’s lessons use evidence-based content from the CDC and provide direct access to evidence-based CDC suicide awareness and SEL (Social and Emotional Learning) interventions.
For example, in Lesson 5, PATH presents a student activity around the CDC Vital Signs Fact Sheet generated from the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System’s (YRBSS) annual data. Student understanding of the YRBSS, a CDC survey implemented in most public schools throughout the country, is the core objective for PATH Lesson 5.
In addition, PATH built lessons around evidence-based NAMI interventions (National Alliance on Mental Illness) to empower every student by having them add and carry the National Crisis Text number and suicide 1-800 Lifeline in their phones.
PATH handouts titled, “Check the Facts,” (provided in each of the six PATH Lessons,) deliver even more of the evidence-based data researched by the CDC, NAMI, and other mental health advocates. (Please request a PATH source list for a full list of our evidence-based studies and scholarly sources* by contacting Tasha at [email protected]).
PATH’s alignment with such evidence-based resources was immediately recognized and certified by SAVE (Suicide Awareness Voices of Education). SAVE’s certification of PATH honors the evidence-based research that years of CBT/DBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy/Dialectical Behavioral Therapy) have revealed.
All parts of the PATH acronym, all activities, and all assignments (including project-based work as well as discussions and journaling) are developed from evidence-based therapeutic practices supported by Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, including mindfulness and Journaling practices, the principal components of Dialectical Behavior Therapy.
Finally, Practice-Based Evidence allows for flexibility when implementing new approaches, like the PATH Program. Flexibility for each school / community / individual student is embedded in our approach.
PATH lessons provide the flexibility needed for each school district’s needs, whether that is suicide awareness, social and emotional learning, diversity and social justice concerns, or resilience for more vulnerable students identifying with LGBTQ communities. The PATH tools for resilience provide an opportunity for all students toward mindfulness and a more self-aware path in their own mental and emotional development.
So-called “tried and true” methods of the past, used for suicide awareness and defeating the stigma that accompanies mental health, have not worked, or have not been implemented with enough fidelity. The PATH Program is our response to the overwhelming requests from schools and communities who heard our suicide awareness presentation and wanted more. They wanted something different. They wanted a voice their students could relate to. Tasha Schuh’s PATH Program is our comprehensive approach to answer this call for support.
You may request our complete list of sources for the PATH Curriculum by emailing Tasha Schuh at [email protected]
Practice-Based Evidence: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/0888406418767254