Local non-profit shares how learning to hope can have positive impact on mental health

Published: Mar. 29, 2023 at 10:47 AM PDT
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - The International Foundation of Research and Education on Depression (iFred) is a 501(c)3 organization based in Reno that is working to teach hope around the world. iFred has worked to shine a positive light on mental health and eliminate stigma through prevention, research and education and created a shift in society’s negative perception of the disease through positive imagery, rebranding, celebrity engagement, cause marketing campaigns, and establishing the sunflower and color yellow as the international symbols for hope.

The organization’s founder and the author of The Biggest Little Book about Hope, Kathryn Goetzke, along with Hope Activator, Kristen Jaskulski, stopped by Morning Break to share how they believe hope is something that can be taught and learned, and that training people to hope is the key to lowering depression, anxiety and suicide rates.

According to iFred’s website, 70% of youth feel their mental health, and that of peers, is their greatest challenge. One in nine students self-report suicide attempts before graduating high school, with 40% indicating their first attempts were made in grade school. Depression is now the leading cause of disability worldwide, and less than 50% are receiving treatment due to stigma and lack of resources.

Hopelessness is the only predictor of suicide and is a primary symptom of depression and anxiety. So iFred has launched the first ever free global curriculum designed to teach hope as a skill called Hopeful Minds. Research has found that higher levels of hope correspond to greater emotional and psychological well-being, greater economic security, improved academic performance, less violence, more connection, less loneliness, and enhanced personal relationships.

In 2022, Reno was also named the first ever Hopeful City, a designation that iFred is hoping spreads to other cities across the globe. Goetzke also encourages everyone to participate in International Day of Hope Monday, May 1.

To learn more about iFred, click here. You can also follow them on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram.