SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3/KSPR) - A Springfield High School is taking a break from classes Tuesday to focus on mental health.
Students behind Tuesday's event at Glendale High School said they realized mental illness was a very real problem in their hallways when the school participated in a state-wide, anonymous test about the topic. Results showed up to 17% of Missouri teens had seriously considered suicide at one point. Now, they are trying to do something about those "shocking" results with the Flock Together event.
Flock Together will be first, 100% student-run mental health awareness event in Springfield Public Schools. The day's activities will be focused around three topics; mental wellness, bullying and relationships, and substance abuse. The students behind the event describe it as being "conference-style" where there is one main speaker followed by breakout sessions.
One of the speakers at Flock Together is Mary Jane Holmes. Holmes' son, Sam, once walked the Glendale High School hallways. He died by suicide in 2017 while attending Missouri State University as a student-athlete.
Since his death, his mother has worked to spread awareness through the campaign Spreading Hope by Spreading Sam. She also said it means a lot to be at her son's high school and had a message for those students who may find themselves in similar shoes as Sam once did. "They're just going to have to be very, very brave and very courageous and just find that person that they trust," said Holmes. "All you may have to do is tell your story a couple of times or you may need medication or you may need both, but life is worth living."
Holmes also encouraged parents to talk to their children about mental illness. She said the conversation could be hard to start, but finding an avenue that your child is comfortable with is key. "Lay on their beds with them, just let the conversation happen, ride around in your car or their car and just listen to their music, have them play their favorite songs for you, ask what they mean," she began. "Find an avenue in to where the kids are coming from and what's going on with them."
The students behind Flock Together all hope the event will unite the school and let those struggling know someone is there for them. "You're not alone, as much as we may think it, there are always people that care about us and want to hear what we're going through," said Glendale High School junior, Blaise Ebisch. "Someone cares about you and someone's gonna want to help you, and I think that's really important for people to understand," said senior Paige Harris.
Fellow seniors Max Elmer and Alexis Morrison agreed. "It never hurts to talk to somebody, to get you feelings out there and ask someone else for help, because everyone needs help," said Elmer. "This Flock Together event is put on together for students to show them that seeking help is a sign of strength," said Morrison.
They hope to be a model for other high schools and encourage students to help one another.