Schools are microcosms of the world we live in, and within them, we find that there are very real and raw issues students are having to deal with every day. A critical aspect of inclusion is the assurance that the emotional, psychological, and social well-being of a student is strong and healthy. Unfortunately, too many students face the struggle of mental illness and are in desperate need of a strong support network both at home and especially at school to keep them afloat and to reinforce the fact that they matter in this world, whoever they may be.
Recently, a recent NA graduate submitted a poem written about her struggles with anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts. She spoke to NA For Change about the challenges she faced beginning in middle school and the challenges that she continues to overcome today. Through the submission and presentation of this poem, she hopes to bravely shed light on the challenges of dealing with mental illness in school, the urgent need for more serious attention to mental health services in schools and at North Allegheny–and importantly, she hopes that those interacting with her poem are able to find the help they need and the hope they need to weather their storms.
In Need of a Change (Mental Health Services in Schools)
By E. Adkins, community member
a change is what the schools are needing
depression and anxiety are what the students are bleeding
the pain seeps out of their souls, but they continue acting as though they are not in pieces, acting like they are whole
education systems think they are doing all they can,
but those with mental illness struggle to stand.
afraid of seeking help, they hide in the darkness within their minds
a sense of belonging they fear they will never find
alone and outcast, they struggle to believe these feelings won’t last
wanting to feel better, but filled with doubt
they continue to fight alone, they never reach out
schools say they have the resources
but the students are still suffering and face a tragic course
kids joke about suicide and depression because it is easier than facing the truth
deep down they are hurting and those insensitive jokes are the proof
kids throw around the word suicide as if it gives a boost to their pride
but why is talking about death like it is no big deal okay?
if someone is truly considering suicide
these jokes aren’t helping them to want to stay
for some, just hearing this word brings tears to their eyes
Because they know how it feels to merely be trying to survive
the stigma needs to end
But this, people don’t comprehend
schools need to talk and educate more about mental health
instead of buying the latest/greatest smart boards with all of their wealth
stop pretending a problem doesn’t exist, or the mental illness will cease to desist
stand together and fight together
for we are overcomers and no one should have to fight alone forever
join hands and make plans
plans to end the internal pain and have strength be regained
some do more than just hurt on the inside
and if someone sees their scars they feel ashamed and continue to hide
the words “I’m fine” said all the time, but becoming one of the biggest lies
don’t let the darkness consume you
no matter how bad it hurts, you will push through
if we work together we can make the school a place that is judgment-free
releasing people of the chains of mental illness and helping them to finally be free
people’s lives are at risk
depression and anxiety are not something that in the snap of your fingers can be fixed
we are talking about human life, don’t sit back and watch someone else drowning in strife
if someone were sinking in the deep end of a pool would you sit back and pretend that it’s cool?
or would you grab their hand and help them reach the surface?
those with mental illness don’t deserve this
they don’t deserve to be treated as though they are worthless
each and every person in this world has a purpose
don’t pretend mental illness isn’t real
‘cause it undeniably is and it is indeed a big deal
#IAmForChange because this world deserves to be stigma-free.
If you ever feel the need to reach out confidentially, please know that NA For Change’s DMs are always open to refer you to the appropriate resource. You matter, and you are not alone.
For further reading, please visit the following links:
https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/ (National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800-273-8255)
Never Be Ashamed of Seeking Help | National Alliance on Mental Illness
What Happens When You Call Suicide Hotline | Buzzfeed News
Help For Mental Illnesses | National Institute for Mental Health
NA School Counseling Staff-All Schools | North Allegheny School District
The Importance of Seeking Help | One Eighty
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