This 2019-2020 school year, David Lawrence Centers for Behavioral Health (DLC), Collier County’s only comprehensive, not-for-profit behavioral health provider serving children, adults and families, challenged middle and high schoolers to be part of the conversation about how mental health – including common challenges such as depression, anxiety, bullying, and substance use – has impacted their lives directly or indirectly through the #StandUp Multimedia Contest. With the school year coming to an end this month, DLC announced the winners of the campaign:
First Place Middle School:
Daniel Dean, 8th Grade Manatee Middle-School
Second Place Middle School:
Jane Jones, 7th Grade Corkscrew Middle School
Essay “Tunnel Vision”
First Place High School:
Janellie Galecki, 10th Grade Home School
Poem “Stand Up”
Second Place High School:
Sabrina Freire, 11th Grade Estero High School
Through short essay, poem, song, and video submissions, local youth were invited to express, in their own words, what suggestions they have to reduce stigma and increase understanding of mental health and/or substance use in their school and community. Submissions conveyed how fellow students can #StandUp for themselves, their friends, and/or others in their community.
Both winning entries were poems. Each first-place winner indicated that this was the first time they have competed for a contest of this kind – sharing proudly that poetry was a creative outlet for them and something they learned over time was a gift. Each winner received gift cards generously sponsored by Mindful Marketing.
Janellie Galecki, first-place high school winner who saw information about the contest in a local magazine, shared that she personally experienced “bullying and other children’s cruelty, judgement, envy and jealousy and experienced a lot of rejection and hypocrisy at the hands of other peers.” Janellie shared that “through prayer, her faith in God and encouragement from her parents” she was able to overcome the situations and forgive those who hurt her. This helped motivate her to take a stand for those with emotional problems who may be impacted by similar challenges and enter the contest.
“I hope that others will see that hate and rejection can hurt others tremendously,” said Galecki, “My hope is that my poem will let people be aware of how they treat and speak to and about others and that they will love everybody thus helping prevent depression and mental illness. I also hope that those who have been affected by rejection and cruelty will read my poem and be encouraged that there are a lot of people out there that are standing up against everything that they are going or went through.”
Daniel Dean, first-place middle school winner who was encouraged to enter the contest by his teacher, hopes his poem will encourage other people his age to be “kinder and have more respect” for fellow students impacted by mental health, bullying and substance use. Dean shared he had no personal connection with these challenges, but understood the importance of standing up for others. He is encouraged that conversations about these important topics were now a part of the curriculum in his school through weekly videos followed by open discussions with classmates.
Sparked by the Parkland school shooting, this school year the Florida Department of Education required school districts to provide a minimum of five hours of instruction on mental and emotional health education to equip students with lifelong mental and wellness skills.
“With 50 percent of all lifetime cases of mental illness beginning by age 14, the time is now to intervene to help our youth grow healthy minds, develop effective coping strategies and create meaningful change in how we discuss and address mental health,” said Scott Burgess, DLC President and CEO. “This contest was created as a means to let local students be part of those healthy conversations and let their voices be heard on this important, life-saving topic. We are impressed and encouraged by the winners and all the entries for taking this important step in changing the conversation and fighting stigma in their schools and communities.”
Suicide, homicide, and deaths induced by drugs and alcohol are now the leading causes of death among children and young adults ages 15 to 24. DLC launched the #StandUp movement in 2018 to bring attention to the issues of mental and emotional health and improve early intervention, avoid unnecessary suffering, and prevent headline-making tragedies in Southwest Florida.
The #StandUp campaign was a way to engage children, parents, and neighbors in supporting one another through mental health and substance use challenges so that more people at risk can access the care they need before a crisis. #StandUp is also about education, raising awareness, developing collaborations, and increasing screening and follow-up care.
Read the powerful and inspiring winning entries for the #StandUp Multimedia Contest at www.StandUpContest.org.