Houston Nonprofit Declares Mental Health State-of-Emergency in Texas Schools

  • Texas has a higher prevalence of mental illness in youth and low access to care
  • Twelve percent of Texas high school students attempted suicide in 2017
  • School assembly program tackles mental health issues, suicide prevention, bullying

HOUSTON –  With increasing mental health concerns facing students in Texas, one Houston-based nonprofit organization has declared a state-of-emergency across all schools.

To combat a mental health epidemic in Texas schools, the Allstar Nation Tour (ANT), a presentation of The National Anti-Bullying Project, will bring its popular one-of-a-kind assembly program to nine schools in five Texas communities to address critical issues facing students such as bullying, suicide, depression, among others. The free supplemental school program is expected to reach an estimated 13,000 middle and high-school students over two weeks.

“We have a state-of-emergency in our schools,” said ANT founder and manager Dillon Smith. “Texas ranks near the bottom when it comes to mental health spending. Suicide is on the rise as is bullying.  We have to act now to help our students and show them there is a way forward.”

Texas has a higher prevalence of mental illness in youth and lower rates of access to care, according to Mental Health America, the nation’s leading community-based nonprofit dedicated to addressing the needs of those living with mental illness. The 2017 Texas youth suicide rate was substantially higher than the national average of seven percent and higher than the previously reported Texas rate of 10 percent in 2013.

Furthermore, according to a recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report, 12 percent of Texas high school students attempted suicide in 2017. The report also shows an increase in the already-high number of Texas high schoolers who reported feeling sad or hopeless: 34 percent in 2017 compared to 28 percent in 2013. Many Texas high school students — around 19 percent — reported that they were bullied on campus, similar to the number reported in 2013.

Unlike traditional school assemblies, ANT delivers powerful and memorable messages that students retain for years following.  To connect with students, ANT’s program includes 3-5 student advocates, who happen to be among the country’s top emerging music artists. They deliver an energetic and passionate concert-like experience mixed with powerful and passionate messages based on real-life experiences. The group’s messages focus on the “L.I.T. Experience”, or “Live, Inspire and Transform.”

The music and messages are performed live and delivered by the artists, some who have competed on hit shows like X-Factor, American Idol, and The Voice. The 60 to 90-minute assembly program is the only one of its kind in the country.

Texas communities such as Katy, Houston, Sugar Land, and others will host assemblies at middle and high schools starting Tuesday, November 6 in Katy. Student advocate music artists participating include former season one X-Factor standout Drew Ryn, 21, of Nashville; Ray Goren, 18, of Las Angeles; Griffin Holtby, 18 of Dallas, Texas;  Nya Marquez, 16, of Arlington, Texas; and popular four-member boyband Single by Sunday from Glasgow, Scotland.

In addition the music, the assembly will include special celebrity guest videos including 19-year-old viral pop artist Anthony Gargiula, who competed on season two of The Four and appeared on The Ellen Show. Assembly locations, dates, and times include:

  • Tuesday, November 6: (Two Assemblies)

Katy Junior High, 5350 Franz Rd., Katy (9:00 a.m. and 2:30 pm)

  • Wednesday, November 7 (One Assembly)

Stockdick Junior High, 4777 Peek Rd, Katy (2:00-3:00PM)

  • Thursday, November 8

To be scheduled (time TBD)

  • Friday, November 9 (Two Assemblies)

David Crockett Middle School, 19001 Beechnut St, Richmond (9:00 a.m. and 1:45 p.m.)

  • Monday, November 12 (One Assembly)

Beck Junior High, 5200 S Fry Rd, Katy (2:00 p.m.)

  • Tuesday, November 13 (Two Assemblies)

Lawson Middle School, 14000 Stancliff St, Houston (9:00 a.m.)

Baines Middle School, 9000 Sienna Ranch Rd, Missouri City (2:00 p.m.)

  • Wednesday, November 14 (One Assembly)

Quail Valley Middle School, 3019 FM 1092 Rd, Missouri City, (9:00 a.m.)

  • Thursday, November 15 (One Assembly)

First Colony Middle School, 3225 Austin Pkwy, Sugar Land (9:00 a.m.)

  • Friday, November 16 (Two Assemblies)

Cinco Ranch Junior High, 23420 Cinco Ranch Blvd, Katy (9:00 a.m. and & 1:00 p.m.)

The Allstar Nation Tour has exploded in popularity having attracted schools and top performers from around the country. The 501c3 organization has previously visited more than 200 schools in Michigan, Texas, Wisconsin, Florida, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Utah since August 2014 performing and speaking to more than 200,000 students and faculty. It relies on private donations and corporate sponsorships.

For tax deductible donations or to sponsor ANT program assemblies and materials, visit www.allstarnationtour.com or call 713-562-1708.

Additional background about student advocates include:

  • Drew Ryn (Performing both weeks)

Fans of Drew Ryn describe her as the voice of this generation. Recognized by millions worldwide, she has amassed a loyal fanbase from her Top 6 finish on the debut season of X-Factor. Drew is proof that music unites. After releasing two EPs, the first of which climbed to Top 8 on the iTunes Pop Charts, Drew began the creation process for her debut album, working with a decorated team of producers. She has a few singles nearing completion that will be released leading up to the album. In addition to the work on her album, Drew has quickly gained a name for herself in the EDM world. Many DJs have recognized the power and ethereal beauty in her voice. She has dropped features and collaborations on Spinning Records, Maxximize Records, and Warner, to name a few. She has more than 10 EDM tracks in the works releasing through 2019, including releases with TOP50 DJs.

  • Ray Goren (Performing both weeks)

Singer, songwriter, and a multi-instrumentalist; Ray Goren is a true triple-threat. At 18 years old,

the ever-evolving musician has fashioned his own dynamic envelope of sound rooted in pop, hip-hop,rock and soul. Ray is also a world-class guitarist whose virtuosity, coupled with emotive voice, captivates audiences. Goren sets his lyrics to a soundtrack of soulful hip-hop and pop/rock.

Many of his songs are based on an acoustic foundation — a sign that Goren has firmly grown into a songwriter whose lyrics stand alongside his electric guitar skills. Goren performs solo — looping his guitar, synthesizer and drum beats into his melodies. His show is Performance-Art, a look into his creative process. Hhis audience witnesses Ray building the groove until that moment of shared recognition when the song truly arrives – an amazing musical experience.

Griffin Holtby (Performing both weeks)

Texas son Griffin Holtby is a singer, guitarist, songwriter and rocker. Inspired by the legends of music; Johnny Cash, Elvis, Guns n Roses, and Jack White, Griffin strives to carry the stories of life on stage and through his music. Already experiencing some incredible highs and lows in life, and with high school behind him, he’s ready to roll into a life of full-time music! He recently signed to Strega Entertainment Group Management.

Nya Marquez (Performing 1st week)

A native of Arlington, Texas, 16-year-old Nya is a singer, dancer, actress, model, and part of today’s next generation of millennial artists. Over the past eight years, the determined teen has been putting in serious work at perfecting her performance level, and is able to successfully tackle numerous industries. Presently breaking into the professional music scene, Nya credits many performers for helping shape the type of artist she is becoming. This includes Taylor Swift, Ariana Grande, Justin Bieber, Beyoncé, among others. She is creating, producing, and writing music for her debut album alongside renowned Latin musician, record producer, and

songwriter, A.B. Quintanilla III. With a substantial track record for producing and writing numerous #1 hits, A.B. has worked beside various Latin musicians including Selena, Thalía, Veronica Castro, and others.

Single by Sunday (Performing 2nd week)

Single by Sunday was voted ‘Best Emerging International Artist’ at Toronto’s Indie Week 2017. Famed for their vibrant hair colors (Red, Blue, Purple and Yellow), Single by Sunday is often compared to bands such as My Chemical Romance and Green Day. They write their material to define their own genre; melodic pop punk. Their fun-filled performances are fueled with catchy hooks, lead riffs and and crowd-drawing energy.

The band has released 4 EPs –  Get Up Get Out; Atom Bomb; Watch Out World; and Punk-U along with two singles – ‘Romeo’ and ‘Say What.’