CLOVIS, Calif. (KFSN) --Dozens of parents listened intently as Tom Shannon, the organizer of the Parent Academy, kicked off the meeting with a story of his own.
Shannon told of his brother's breakup with a girlfriend, his isolation from the family, and his argumentative attitude. And how what happened one night has changed him forever.
"He put the tailpipe into the window and started the car and fell asleep. Thank goodness for my dad, who for whatever reason had to get something out of his car in the morning, found him in there, shook him, and it took him about 20 seconds to come to."
That experience has given Shannon a passion to teach other teachers, parents, and students to break the stigma of mental illness-- to talk about emotions and get help.
Over the course of two hours parents from Clovis North and its feeder schools listening intently and scribbled notes-- Kay Sandhu was among them. While her children are just 11 and 14, she says they are already feeling the pressure of getting into just the right college.
"It seems like nowadays everybody's in a competition to get in a good school. Trying to do X, Y and Z-- so it's kind of like a herd mentality right now. They have to; they feel like if their peers are doing it they have to do it too."
"We know that kids at school feel kind of pressured and if they go to talk to a teacher they may not say exactly what's been going on with them for fear of retaliation of what might happen, and the consequences and the fear of that," said Samantha Maciel, High School Senior.
Maciel and Karina Ponce spoke to the parents about a resource web page they have created called the Haven Project. They are C.A.R.T. students who believe if their peers can access help anonymously they are more likely to reach out.
Spotting depression or suicidal thoughts can be tough for both parents and teachers-- Shannon said the symptoms are often masked.
"So sometimes we mistake acting out with getting in trouble, a bad kid or an unmotivated kid, and really, they might be reaching out for help. That's their cry for help. Sometimes they can't put it into words so they act it out."
Clovis Unified has its own resources on campus but they also provide a list of resources for both parents and teens on their district website. They believe kids who come to school who are not mentally or emotionally happy are not going to learn.