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    JED Foundation’s Set to Go Program Helps High School Students Transition

    The transition between high school and entry into the workforce or college can be a daunting time for many students. Even deciding on a school or career path can fill students with anxiety or exacerbate existing mental health conditions. The JED Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to “protecting emotional health and preventing suicide,” has created the Set to Go program to help ease this transition and assist students in attaining basic life skills.

    Set to Go is created for 15–18-year-olds, and organizes student-oriented educational material around a five-pronged framework: Putting College in Perspective, Basic Life Skills, Social and Emotional Skills, Mental Health and Substance Abuse Literacy, and The Transition. Each prong helps students think more deeply about their next move, including the type of college experience they are seeking and concrete steps they will need to take to transition successfully. For example, The Transition addresses issues such as being a first-generation college student, managing disabilities in college, and transitioning current mental health care to the college environment. Other areas addressed include improving sleep quality, setting life goals, developing self-esteem, and managing worry.

    Dr. Victor Schwartz, The JED Foundation medical director, describes Set to Go as “an extremely upstream intervention program” designed to create healthier students who are prepared to handle basic life stresses (managing money, doing laundry, engaging in self-care), thus reducing the likelihood of overwhelming mental health issues later. If students do later develop mental health issues, through Set to Go they will already have acquired skills enabling them to seek appropriate help and to cope with management of their condition.

    Although much of the Set to Go program focuses on transitioning from high school to college, many of the lessons will also apply to students entering the workforce or other training program upon high school graduation. Even if students do not plan to attend college, the program offers practical lessons in areas such as managing stress and safe use of technology.

    While the primary content is geared toward high school students, additional content aimed at families and educators is available. One of JED’s goals is to expand the parent and educator content and provide tips for supporting—not smothering—a student during what can sometimes feel like an overwhelming time.

    United Educators (UE) believes the JED Set to Go resource can help schools initiate transition conversations and planning, leading to an overall healthier and more prepared student body.

    By Heather A. Salko, senior risk management counsel