by Randall Standridge
Why I wrote (not) Alone:
Many who live with mental health conditions experience a profound sense of isolation. Discussing these issues and more so, identifying as someone who lives with them, has been extremely taboo in our society. Thus, many suffer in silence, facing their troubles with no support. But, as the title of the work implies, they are not alone.
I live with depression and anxiety. I have tried to use my platform to normalize discussions about mental health and to help start conversations about this issue. Here are some statistics you may or may not be aware of:
1 in 5 of adults in the US experience mental health issues each year.
1 in 6 youths in the US experience mental health issues each year.
90% of suicides worldwide are attributable to mental illness.
Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death in the United States.
With statistics like this, it is shocking and frustrating that so many people are reluctant to acknowledge, discuss, and address these issues. In 2021, I was asked to create a work for wind ensemble addressing mental illness. The resultant work, “unBroken”, is one of my favorite works I have ever created, both from an aesthetic and personal perspective. However, this work is very advanced (Grade 5), which limits its demographic for performers and, thus, audiences.
Those of us that teach or have taught middle school and high school know that there is a need to address this issue at younger ages, and to make such tools available to middle schools and developing high school ensembles. I decided to make this work a consortium, expecting there would be 20-30 schools that would support such a piece. 40 tops. The consortium included over 300 schools.
This is an issue whose time has come. The time is now. We need to talk about this, and we are going to talk about this. We are going to show them all that they are not alone.