HARLINGEN, Texas (ValleyCentral) — A group of Harlingen students are going beyond the books and pushing to ensure mental health is a priority among their peers. 

In this week’s Pay it 4ward, Sydney Hernandez introduces us to the Harlingen HOPE Squad, looking to spark conversation and friendship. 

“If you are struggling mentally, it is okay to speak up and you should not silent your voice,” said Kevin Moreno, HOPE Squad president. 

Moreno is the president of the HOPE Squad at Harlingen School of Health Professions. 

“It’s a peer-to-peer suicide prevention program in where students are nominated by their own peers to serve as “hope squaders” which are students that are trained to identify those struggling with their mental health,” said Moreno. 

It’s a program that students and staff say is needed.

“1 in 5 high school students are attempting suicide. 7 out of 10 tell their friends about it. When you consider 3,700 students a day are considering as a whole it seems like a good idea to research and help within the district which is what HCISD did,” said Tammy Escalante, HOPE Squad Sponsor. 

Each of the 25 HOPE Squaders checks in with other students to make sure their mental health is good and if it’s not, they’re trained to help. 

“I love helping people, this is why I came to this school, to help those in the medical field and helping people comes second nature to me,” said Moreno. 

Regardless of their grade level, future career goals, or extracurricular activities, all 25 students of these students took an oath to help one other. 

“From the shyest type of person to an outspoken person, they’re all different and still willing to come in and help and that’s what makes me the proudest of them- they want to help, and they see a need,” said Escalante. 

The district plans to open up more HOPE Squads across multiple campuses. 

If you know of someone making a difference in our community, send us an email at Submissions@ValleyCentral.Com