Woodside college student launches mental health website

Mackenzie Drazan started Teaching Everyone About Mental Health after her sister's death by suicide

In the months after Mackenzie Drazan lost her younger sister, Shelby, to suicide last year, the 20-year-old Woodside resident and Duke University sophomore says she learned a lot of things she wished she had known while her sister was still alive.

"When I was trying to help my sister," she says, it was "a very steep learning curve."

Shelby Drazan was 17 when she died in October 2014. Shelby had been diagnosed with severe depression and anxiety and was struggling with an eating disorder, her sister says.

"It's hard to know even where to start," Mackenzie says. "It's hard to know how to be a sister, how to be a friend" to someone with a mental illness.

She decided a website would help her share what she's learned in the past year. The website, Teaching Everyone About Mental Health, or TEAM, is designed to help the family and friends of those with mental illness.

"Hopefully we can lower the learning curve for everybody else," she says.

To read the rest of the story, visit Almanac News.


10 people like this
Posted by Sarah1000
a resident of Los Altos
on Nov 6, 2015 at 12:17 pm

Thanks MacKenzie for creating this much-needed website. I recently attended a public forum at Sacred Heart which I believe arose as a result of your sister's death. My 18 yr old son has major depressive disorder and goes to SF for most of his treatment. Mental illness is a chronic illness that can be managed with medication, therapy, a mental health plan and, when necessary, hospitalization. Unfortunately, our community is very lacking in mental health services, especially for our youth. Your website will save lives. ❤️

6 people like this
Posted by Remembering Shelby
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 6, 2015 at 3:01 pm

This is wonderful news compared to the sadness that I felt after Shelby's passing.

What a good way to remember Shelby and love those around us. Our family is looking forward to learning from TEAM.

Thank you MacKenzie.

27 people like this
Posted by Coincidence?
a resident of Southgate
on Nov 6, 2015 at 3:35 pm

There appears to be a correlation between high-scoring, high pressure schools. Even Bellarmine had a spate of suicides between 2009 and 2013.

My guess is that certain students at such schools feel beleaguered and overwhelmed, and seek a long term solution to a short term problem because they see no light at the end of the tunnel.

I went to a high pressure high school, and middle school; I thought college would surely be worse. I was also an abused child and anorexic. I thought the only way I would ever get any peace or rest or even a full night's sleep was to kills myself passively--I.e., let myself starve to death. I even withheld water.

What saved me was college. Though I did not get into my first choice, which My mother harangued me about ceaselessly, it WAS away from home, and nowhere near as difficult as even middle school had been ( aside from the increase in reading assignments ). But having free time for the first time since kindergarten, and some independence and free thinking, helped me discover who I really was, that life could be enjoyable, and that I enjoyed learning ( rather than dreading it--it was no longer drudgery).

Being able to see the light at the end of the tunnel made me actually enjoy the time spent in that tunnel--and that I had wonderful life choices at its end.

[Portion removed.]

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