The Harrison School helps children and teenagers struggling with their mental health to continue with their education whilst being treated for the issues that they are experiencing. At the school, we meet Janina who has been diagnosed with depression and has been at the school for four years and is afraid to leave the schools safety.
Devante has been a witness to a life changing traumatic shooting in which the girl he cared about lost her life and he is finding life difficult. He attempts suicide but is stopped and decides to enrol at the Harrison School. Devante is diagnosed with acute stress disorder and he meets Janina. Their friendship helps them both on their journey to recovery.
As a result of a new addition to the Harrison School team is given a select group of students to look after and as a result starts to question Janina’s diagnosis. After investigation and new research it is decided that Janina is not mentally unwell but has been mis-diagnosed because the people around her failed to acknowledge her intellect. Showing that the labels we take on are fluid and can change over time.
Whilst at the Harrison School Devante begins to see that there are others in a similar situation to him, he is not alone and there are other people who are in a worst position than him.
This book shows the differences between different mental health conditions and their durations. It also shows the fluidity of mental health diagnosis and that labels are not necessarily everything and that treating teenagers as people has a huge beneficial effect.
Listen to our full review at:
Mental Health Book Club Episode 15
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Trigger warning: this podcast discusses suicide, self-harm and violence with guns.
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If you need to talk you can contact:
Mental Health Resources:
Rethink Mental Illness
Mind The Mental Health Charity
- Infoline: 0300 123 3393 (Our lines are open 9am to 6pm, Monday to Friday (except for bank holidays)
- Text: 86463
Winner of the 2016 Chicago Writers Association Book of the Year Award for Fiction, Non-Traditionally Published.
On the edge of the Chicago medical district, the Harrison School for Exceptional Youth looks like a castle in a snow globe. Janina has been there since she was ten years old, and now she’s fourteen. She feels so safe inside its walls that she’s afraid to leave.
Devante’s parents bring him there after a tragedy leaves him depressed and suicidal. Even though he’s in a different place, he can’t escape the memories that come flooding back when he least expects them.
Dr. Gail Thomas comes to work there after quitting her medical residency. Frustrated and on the verge of giving up on her dreams, she sees becoming a counselor as her last chance to put her skills to the test.
When he founded the school, Dr. Lutkin designed its unique environment to be a place that would change the students’ lives. He works hard as the keeper of other people’s secrets, though he never shares any of his own.
But everything changes late in the winter of 1994 when these four characters’ lives intersect in unexpected ways. None of them will ever be the same.
Find our review of this book in Episode 15