Note: The names for this story have been changed. If you are experiencing a mental health crisis, seeking emotional support, or feeling suicidal, call or text 988 or call the Kansas Suicide Prevention HQ direct counseling line at 785-841-2345.
Every day for a year, Ann’s son wanted to die.
“Literally, for one year, every day, he talked about how terrible everything was, that he didn’t deserve to be alive, and that he wanted to kill himself,” Ann said. “For a year, he was like in a death spiral.”
Thanks to a team effort that has included school counselors, teachers, administrators, and WRAP therapists, today Ann’s son, John, is a different person.
“He went through a lot of dark days, but now he feels good about himself,” Ann said.
WRAP is a Bert Nash Community Mental Health Center program that — in partnership with Lawrence Public Schools and other Douglas County schools — assigns a master’s-level clinician to work collaboratively with the school’s mental health professionals and staff.
The WRAP program is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year.
Ann’s family’s involvement with WRAP started in the fall of 2019. Her son has worked with three different WRAP therapists at three different Lawrence schools, two middle schools and one of the high schools. In middle school, John experienced severe bullying, which had started in elementary school.
“In January of 2020, he came to me and told me he was suicidal, and he had a plan,” Ann said. “He would tell me he hated himself and he wanted to kill himself. He said I can’t do this anymore. He was 12.”
John was hospitalized for a time. The family has been on a suicide safety plan ever since.
“The WRAP therapist was a lifesaver,” Ann said. ‘My son doesn’t have any friends. The WRAP therapist was his friend.”
John and his mom also utilize services from the Bert Nash Center, including parent support, individual therapy, medication services, and the SED (Serious Emotional Disturbance) waiver program, which provides more intensive services.
“The WRAP therapists are amazing in how they deal with each individual kid,” Ann said. “They work together with the school counselor. There’s a whole team, and the WRAP therapist is a huge part of that.”
The original idea behind the start of the WRAP program was to take services to where the students are — in the schools. And to help keep them in school.
““Having the WRAP therapists on site is great. I can’t imagine there not being a WRAP program,” Ann said. “It has kept my son in school and allowed me to keep my job. I don’t know what would have happened if he hadn’t had that support.”
In addition to working with a WRAP therapist at Lawrence High School, John now attends the Secondary Therapeutic Classroom, an alternative school setting for special needs students.
“He loves it,” Ann said. “He’s excited to go to school, which is a really big deal. He’s learning coping skills, and he has a job.”
Ann said her son is a different person now, thanks to WRAP and other school and community supports. And, most importantly, he is alive.
“The WRAP program saves lives. It has been a lifesaver for my son,” Ann said. “He came to me recently and said, ‘I’m so glad I’m alive.’ I never thought I would hear him say that.”
Help us celebrate & sustain the WRAP program by making a donation at bertnash.org/WRAP or text WRAP to 91999. Your gift of $25, $250, or $2,500 will directly impact the daily therapeutic activities and crisis intervention services to all Douglas County students.