“Last year I was friends with somebody who was really depressed and actually took her own life,” says Neosho High School student Delaney Pierce.
She knows all too well what the pressures of life can do to someone.
“It took me weeks to like even cope with it and still right now it’s about that time of year that it happened last year. It’s almost been a year.”
And other students are struggling with those same emotions that come with stress and anxiety.
Neosho High School student Amber Miller adds, “A lot of times I feel like I’m not good enough whether it be for my teachers or my parents or even for myself.”
“They are so hurried and so performance-based, if you will, that if they don’t meet that performance then they feel like an absolute failure whether it’s with their friends, or their family, or their school or anything else that pressure is so very real for them,” says Neosho teacher Ann Landrum.
So the Neosho School District is taking this problem head-on by creating ways to make sure students’ mental health doesn’t fall by the wayside anymore.
Neosho Counseling Services Director Tracy Clements says, “We have done 152 suicide risk assessments since December. Uh, 22 of those have been high risk, which means the students had a plan to commit suicide and intended to carry it out.”
Since last August, the Neosho School District’s Mental Health Committee began with meetings to update the school’s suicide and crisis plans. It grew from there to include Social/ Emotional Learning curriculum that will be incorporated into students’ education. There are also therapists on campus now to provide services to students who need it.
“There’s so many kids whose parents can’t take off work to get them to counseling and a lot of kids with attendance problems, so bringing the therapists to the schools has opened that service up to a lot of kids,” says Clements.
And now the Mental Health Committee is looking to the students themselves to hear input on how they can better help them in the future.
“The kids themselves are saying they need coping skills and direct instruction in coping skills and they need help with conflict resolution and several of the groups came up with the idea of peer mediators,” says Clements.
Delaney Pierce adds, “It makes me feel like I’m actually cared about at school, because like last year and the year before I felt like nobody in the school really cared or understood like the students are really going through things on their own, but now that they are actually recognizing students are going through mental health problems it makes me feel a lot more safe at school.”
The Mental Health Committee will soon be hearing from the parents on how to better understand how they can help.
Next year committee members will be going outside the district to have meetings with other schools on how to create more solutions for students’ well being.