Letter from the Executive Director
In the time it will take you to read this message, a teen with depression will consider suicide. A child with anxiety will wonder whether he will ever be normal. And millions of youth with treatable mental health difficulties will long for help that they may never get.
As a school psychologist, I encountered colleagues who were among the most hardworking individuals I have ever met – generous, compassionate, and tireless. Yet the problems their students brought in the door every day were overwhelming: poverty, homelessness, bullying, depression, domestic violence, abuse, anxiety. At a school in rural Michigan, I met Jayden, a 14-year-old boy so paralyzed by anxiety that he was unable to speak beyond a whisper, all day, every day.
We launched TRAILS in 2013 for students like Jayden, and for school staff who, like my colleagues, needed better tools to help their students meet the challenges they faced. At first, we worked directly with school counselors in a handful of Ann Arbor schools, helping them to incorporate the research-driven principles of cognitive behavioral therapy and mindfulness into their work with students. This partnership formed the foundation of TRAILS CBT and Mindfulness as it exists today.
In the years that followed, the TRAILS team grew to include more clinicians, as well as a dynamic group of implementation specialists, researchers, designers, and support staff. We were able to bring CBT and Mindfulness programming to schools throughout the state of Michigan – and in the process, we identified the need for a wider range of mental health supports. At the request of our school partners, we developed Social and Emotional Learning, Coping with COVID-19, and Suicide Prevention and Risk Management. We’ve since been able to offer this robust suite of programs to hundreds of schools nationwide.
But there is still so much more to do. While the health care industry will never adequately meet the need for mental health services, our education system offers a beacon of hope. The TRAILS team is working every day to put effective mental health tools into the hands of the students and school staff who need them most. If this work resonates with you, learn more about our programming. Explore our library of materials. Or send us a message. We’re grateful for your attention and support.
TRAILS Executive Director