October 10, 2019

A new mental health play for high schools

Kaiser Permanente’s program ‘Ghosted’ addresses suicide, anxiety, and depression for Colorado teens.

Kaiser Permanente’s Ghosted is a complimentary program available to Colorado schools in areas where Kaiser Permanente operates.

Contact: Nick Roper

DENVER — Youth mental health issues — anxiety, depression, and suicide — are rising at a rapid rate in Colorado. It’s clear more can and must be done to improve access to mental health care and resources.

That’s why Kaiser Permanente Colorado, the state’s largest nonprofit health plan, is teaming up with local high schools this fall to unveil “Ghosted,” an interactive play and workshop designed to address mental health needs, break down stigma, and provide resources to teens and teachers.

“Now more than ever, high school students are open to talking about and exploring mental health,” said Brian Harper, Kaiser Permanente Colorado senior community health specialist and local “Ghosted lead.

“We know we need to be a part of those conversations in a way that can help guide students while learning from them. This play and workshop offer us an opportunity to interact with teens in a deeper, more connected way than we previously thought possible,” said Harper.

"Ghosted” — which is a term used when a person, suddenly and without notice, cuts off communication with another — was created by Kaiser Permanente Washington in collaboration with the Seattle Children’s Theatre. The hour-long interactive play follows 4 high school students as they navigate a typical day at school. The play features each actor showcasing complex emotions — from anger brought on by issues in the home to guilt brought on by not knowing what to say to someone who is contemplating suicide.

The cast then engages the audience in a 20-minute open conversation, examining the themes of the play, and asking students how they might handle each of the 4 characters’ emotions.

After the play, students participate in a 60-minute workshop in their classrooms, working with their teachers and “Ghosted” program facilitators to address suicide prevention. Teachers, staff, and students are provided with additional mental health resources and helpful guides during the workshop.

“Ghosted” is part of Kaiser Permanente Colorado’s larger commitment to improving mental health in Colorado schools and communities.

In August 2019, Kaiser Permanente Colorado announced a collaboration with the Douglas County School District to provide mental health training to school staff and teachers, as well as $99,999 in community benefit support.

In the spring of 2019, Kaiser Permanente Colorado also announced the launch of Resilience in School Environments Understanding and Practice, or RISE UP, a complementary learning session for school staff, administrators, and teachers, designed to foster resilience and support school staff as they work with traumatized students.

“The mental health needs of Coloradans, especially teens, are increasing year after year. We know one of the best ways to reach our state’s youth is by creating an environment at school where they are open to talking and learning about the tough topics of depression, anxiety, and suicide,” said Amy Whited, Kaiser Permanente Colorado senior director of communications, community health, and engagement.

“I’m so proud of our new ‘Ghosted’ program because Kaiser Permanente is trying to connect with students on their terms, talking about mental health in a comfortable environment. This program was a collaborative effort with local school districts. They helped shape this program into a meaningful and inspiring opportunity for young people,” said Whited.

“Ghosted,” run by Kaiser Permanente Colorado’s Arts Integrated Resources department, is a complimentary program available to all Colorado schools in the areas of the state where Kaiser Permanente operates.

The production will run from September 18 to November 22, 2019. Kaiser Permanente plans to provide the program to Colorado schools again in the spring of 2020.

To schedule “Ghosted” at your school, please visit kp.org/air.

About “Ghosted”

Target audience: Grades 9–12
Minimum audience size: 100–250 students
Preferred performance area: Gym
Duration: 40 minutes, plus 20 minutes for interactive discussion
Workshop: 60 minutes in the classrooms
Cost: Free to schools within Kaiser Permanente Colorado’s service area
Booking: kp.org/air