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Leon County Schools' PSAs raise awareness about adolescent mental illness

Posted at 6:47 PM, Sep 09, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-09 18:47:18-04

LEON COUNTY, Fla. — We're just one month into this school year and Leon County Superintendent Rocky Hanna has already attended the funeral for a student who committed suicide.

Monday is the first day of National Suicide Prevention Week and Leon County Schools is determined to help raise awareness about adolescent mental health.

On Monday, they unveiled their new Knowing Signals Mental Health Awareness Campaign that sends a powerful message to both parents and kids.

"You Are Not Alone." That is the message from Leon County Schools. Two new PSA's raise awareness about mental health issues and feature students from Leon High School.

"When kids talk to each other, it's very powerful," said Hanna. "That's why it's going to have an impact and it's kids talking to parents too saying I am sending you signals everyday, just pay attention."

Hanna says communication is the key to any relationship and it's going to be the key to keeping our kids alive.

"A lot of the times you do feel like you are alone. You feel like you can't talk to people," said Kayden Washington, student at Leon High School. "You feel like no one will understand you, so I think this PSA is a great conversation starter."

A Leon High School drama teacher cast the PSA's. She says they remind students, faculty and parents to be more aware of mental health issues, the signs, and to take the time to connect.

"Everybody has a story and let's figure out what people's stories are and let's help them if they are having a difficult time in their story," said Lea Marshall, theatre teacher at Leon High School.

It's all about communication, peer to peer and parent to child and starting these honest conversations now could mean the difference between life and death.

"These PSA's are going to save lives. There is no doubt in my mind and we may never know it but they will," said Hanna. "A kid is going to watch this tonight that is in crisis and they are going to speak out tomorrow. That's what is going to happen."

Hanna says his staff conducts risk assessments for children in Leon County Schools everyday. If they need to intervene with the family, they will.

But he says with 33,000 kids in Leon County Schools, they desperately need parents help as well.