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School social worker is resource for struggling students

There is help for students at every school who feel they have no place to turn.
Students in a school hallway

SEATTLE -- The shooting at Marysville-Pilchuck High School certainly raised the issue of violence in schools. But there is help for students at every school who feel they have no place to turn.

Statistically, one-in-five people suffers from mental illness. It's no different in high school.

At Chief Sealth High School in Seattle, there is a full time social worker to help students dealing with anything from homelessness to domestic violence to foster care, and anyone feeling stressed out or sad.

Carrie Syvertsen provides support and, depending on the need, connects students with outside agencies. The key, said Syvertsen, is making sure students have a voice and are heard.

"Chief Sealth identified this particular role as critical and vital because of that need to assess and refer students to outside resources as well as provide the social emotional support by way of groups and an adult in the building they can access anytime throughout the day to support them," said Syvertsen.

Alexis found herself in an abusive relationship with a boy and asked us not to identify her.

"I was dating this boy, he was very verbally abusive and he was rude and controlling," Alexis said. "You get out of your character, you're not yourself anymore. You become this other person because you're so used to being told what to do by someone."

Alexis eventually ended the relationship and joined a support group at Chief Sealth. But, she remembers it took some convincing.

"When I first heard about it I was kind of iffy like, 'Oh, I don't know how I feel about talking to other girls about my problems,' And then I started thinking about it and thought, 'You know, it might help.'"

Alexis still meets with Syvertsen once a week.

"It's really to have that stability, those same places, those same faces that they count on that they can rely on," Syvertsen said.

Alexis' friends first started noticing the changes in her while she was in that abusive relationship. Eventually, she saw it herself and is grateful for the support she found at school.

"I think I'd probably still be going back and forth with the boy I had a problem with and I think I'd be in more of a depressed stage because I was getting into that [place] and I don't like being in it because it's really hard to get out of," said Alexis.

Not every school has a full time social worker, but they do have adults who are there to be that outlet for any student who needs someone to talk to.