Her name was Hannah Baker, mine's Savannah. Welcome to your tape education.
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A good majority of the population have seen the new hit tv show on Netflix called "13 Reasons Why", if you haven't I highly recommend watching it, and reading the book (because in all honesty the books are always better!). This show is about a girl who killed herself, and the 13 reasons why she did it. Through out the show it shows graphic scenes of what it is like for someone to slowly find hope and meaning in life at all, and who eventually comes to the conclusion that there is no point and kills herself. Her thirteen reasons for killing herself are labeled as people who influenced her life in one way or another, most of them being bad, seeing as how she killed herself. Although in the show they are real people what they really stand for and represent is real situations that happen. It address things such as sexual assault, rumors, etc. The huge overall issue that it focuses on is mental issues, the depression that just wouldn't stop, the anxiety that kept Hannah from telling anyone, the PTSD that prevented her to actually connect and get help. Because of those underlying mental health issues, and because no one could see the signs, not of suicide but of crippling anxiety and massive depression, Hannah Baker dies.
Unfortunately in today's society kids relate to Hannah Baker's (the main character in 13 Reasons Why) in ways that are so real it's painful. Kids from the ages of 6-18, or 2/3 of the struggle from mental health issues just like Hannah did. Kids from ages 6-18 also spend 8 hours out of their 12 hour days at school. A place where not only are mental health issues not talked about, nor are the adults in charge, trained to recognize and help with, but where mental health issues are viewed as not serious enough, not valid enough, and are flat out just disrespected and judged.
My name is Savannah Poe,Through out my entire high school career I have struggled with acute anxiety. Recently situations have led my anxiety to become crippling and make life so incredibly difficult that I can no longer function as a person, never the less go to school.
Now when kids are physically disabled they are accommodated for and teachers understand and they are given the treatment that they deserve according to their injury. When kids are suffering from mental illnesses, instead of being accommodated and give the correct treatment based on their disability they are judged, ridiculed, and viewed as being "just a teenage", "lazy", or "just making up excuses".
I have felt this and seen it played out in my own situation as my citizenship in school has decreased because according to the teachers my excuse was seemingly not valid enough as to why I couldn't attend schools. Along with the decrease in my citizenship I have received judgement from teachers and been told to "just get over it" and "you don't seem to be hurt", but just because my disability isn't physical doesn't mean it isn't valid.
Along with myself experiencing this one of my good friends went through the same thing. At first she did have a physical disability which had to be fixed through surgery, from her time on leave from surgery her teachers made sure she got her homework, worked with her, and showed real compassion for what she was going through. Because of her surgery she wasn't able to attend school for about 2 months, which took a toll on her socially. When returning back to school from surgery she fell into deep clinical depression, and developed extreme anxiety. Eventually getting to the point that she had to miss some school in order to be emotionally okay. Instead of teachers accommodating and understanding, they judged and didn't take it seriously. Because of the neglect this girl received and the help that was not given to her, she could no longer attend school. She recently dropped out and is working on getting her GED due to the lack of support that is in our school system for mental health.
In Davis School Districts policy it address 504's which are given to kids who have chronic disabilities. There is two issues I see wrong with this, number one is that in order to get a 504 or even know what that is, a teacher, doctor, or parent has to start the process. Although we would hope that people could get they help they need for their mental disabilities sometimes not only are they not in a place physically where they could get help, but they are not emotionally mature or capable enough to tell someone and get help. The second issue is that 504's are for CHRONIC issues, sometimes anxiety isn't a chronic issue, sometime depression isn't massive and doesn't take over your life, but that doesn't mean it isn't there. The only thing worse than having to suffer through a mental illness without any support, is having to be told that it isn't bad enough to deserve help.
Davis School Districts policy also covers bullying, harassment, and hazing, but the biggest bullies to kids are themselves. I don't think that there is a huge amount of kids telling each other that "If you answer that question you'll sound dumb, then everyone will laugh at you, then you'll never have friends. Besides your opinion doesn't matter anyway, you don't matter, why are you even still existing." but I can promise you kids that struggle with depression and anxiety including myself have said those exact words to themselves. I understand that there is a required suicide prevention training course that every teacher must attend when getting and renewing their license, but as I have asked several teachers all of them say that there is nothing mentioned about issues such as clinical depression, anxiety, PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) , or ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) . There is no talk of the things that make kids want to stop existing. So why do we have to wait till we want to kill ourselves, and no longer see a point in living for someone to simply notice we aren't okay.
According to ACMH-MI.org, 1-5 kids show diagnosable behavior for mental disabilities, and at least 50% - 80% don't get the help they need from any where. Out of those kids only 40% of kids who have mental health issues graduate due to the lack of awareness that is in schools. I don't think the lack of awareness is intentional but, I think that there needs to be an intentional drive to get kids that suffer from mental health an environment in which they can learn and feel safe in schools.
I want to help make a difference, I want to make it so kids can reach their potential, so they can enjoy school (even though I don't think "enjoying" school is a thing, haha) but I want to bring awareness to issues that are effecting over half of students, I want them to be able to succeed, and I want to help them do it in a way that takes care of them not just physically but emotionally.
If there is a day and time we could set up a meeting I would love to talk more about making a difference and make public education as a whole become a better place for all involved.
Today: Savannah is counting on you
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