Blue Steel Program
Mental Health Promotion & Resilience-Building
Designed to prepare students for the Youth Aware of Mental Health (YAM) Program, Blue Steel is a trauma-informed, resilience-building education program designed to teach resilience skills and effective tools for supporting one's self and others during times of stress.
Developed within the CDRC, this program highlights emotion recognition and management, relaxation response activities, and empathic relationships as protective factors to encourage an attitude of mindfulness, acceptance, and mental flexibility. Increasing feelings of self-efficacy ultimately teaches youth that they are reliable partners in their own mental health promotion.
Blue Steel focuses on 8 key areas of resilience-building:
Educate youth about resilience
One of the foundational components of mental illness management and prevention is the quality of resilience. Resilience is the ability to maintain or regain mental health in the face of adversity or to bounce back from hardship and trauma. Resilience is not the absence of stress. Rather, it is built upon experiences of stress or adversity, and is the hallmark of strength and success. It is vital that students grow resilience because these are the skills they will call upon throughout their lives.
Teach youth about the body's stress and relaxation responses
Youth is a challenging time when one's internal and external environments are rapidly changing. Being able to understand the role of stress, and how each individual can manage it are powerful tools one can use throughout the rest of their life.
Identify and normalize stressors
Stress is a part of everyone's life, but students have their own unique set of stressors. Blue Steel focuses on teaching stress awareness and relaxation response activities that foster an attitude of mindfulness, acceptance, and flexibility.
Define and review both internal and external coping strategies
Trained facilitators help students examine their challenges with a broader lens to become aware that the end of something can also be the beginning of something new.
Encourage and develop mental flexibility
Mental flexibility and agility are indicators of resilience and mean that we can adapt and are willing to shift our thought patterns when confronted with changing circumstances.
Grow a values-based mindset
A foundation is one's personal set of values and something they can always go back to. Values are the fabric of one's life and their strength in challenging times. Even though these can change and evolve over time, they are always something that can relied upon. Providing students with exercises and trained facilitators that guide them through articulating their values is a critical part of Blue Steel.
Promote mental health self-monitoring
Self-monitoring involves keeping a personal record of your moods and behaviors in order to track trends over time. This allows individuals to observe how their mental state changes and provides concrete data to show how they are progressing, and which symptom profiles need attention. Blue Steel connects students with the CDRC's own mental health self-monitoring tool, that provides an easy-to-use, research-driven web-based tool. Learn more here.
Cultivate a positive peer-to-peer support network
Feelings of belonging to a group or community provide a sense of purpose and support to people. Connecting with others is critical to building resilience against uncertainty, loneliness, exhaustion, and distress. Blue Steel trains students on how to consider themselves valuable mental health resources for each other, and encourages steps to reach out to each other in time of need.
To learn more about this program, connect with us at Harmony.Hilton@UTSouthwestern.edu.
For information about CDRC programs, research, or activities, contact us at CDRC@UTSouthwestern.edu.