NAMI Ending The Silence

Helping middle and high schoolers understand mental illness makes a big difference. We can teach them about the warning signs for themselves and their friends. NAMI Ending the Silence helps raise awareness and change perceptions around mental health conditions.

Through this free classroom presentation, students get to see the reality of living with a mental health condition. During the 50-minute presentation, a young adult living with mental illness and a family member tell their stories about mental health challenges, including what hurt and what helped.

What is NAMI Ending the Silence?

  • A prevent and early intervention presentation that engages youth, school staff and families in a discussion about mental health
  • Available free for 3 audiences: students, families and school staff
  • Presented by a trained group consisting of:
    • A young adult (18-35) with a mental health condition
    • An adult with a mental health condition or family member of a person who has a mental health condition
  • Audience members learn to recognize the early warning signs of mental health conditions and what to do if they or someone they know is showing these signs
  • Audience members can ask questions of family members and people experiencing mental health conditions
  • By engaging youth, school staff and families in a discussion about mental health conditions, young people dealing with mental health conditions realize they’re not alone
  • NAMI Ending the Silence program does not recommend or endorse any medications or other medical therapies
  • NAMI Ending the Silence program material is copyrighted

What are the NAMI Ending the Silence stats as of now?

  • NAMI Ending the Silence was developed in 2007 by Brenda & Brian Hilligoss with NAMI DuPage County Illinois
  • IN 2013 NAMI DuPage County generously gifted the program to NAMI for oversight and technical assistance
  • Available in 41 states*
  • More than 800 volunteers have been trained to lead NAMI Ending the Silence*
  • Over 400,000 participants since 2014*

* as of Dec. 2018

What are people saying about NAMI Ending the Silence?

  • “Thank you for coming to my school and sharing your story. You have changed my life forever. The things you explained about your depression relate to how I feel. When I got home, I immediately talked to my parents and hoepfully I will get some help. I have had many thoughts of suicide.”
  • “I believe I’ve had depression since 7th grade. I have been holding it in for a really long time. After hearing the presentation, I went home and told my mom. I told her I need help with this because it is not something I can fix myself; I have tried and tried. Now, after school today, I have a meeting with a psychiatrist. I am really scared but I know I am doing the right thing.”
  • “I’m grateful for your presentation because it helped me get the courage to face a mental illness I think I might have and I feel encouraged to seek help.”
  • “NAMI Ending the Silence succeeds where so many other forms of outreach fail because of the genuine validity of our experience. Unlike many health teachers who work out of a book and have no personal context to draw on, we have the lived expertise acquired through years of struggle. We understand the hurt and anguish like no other and have earned the authority to portray hope as more than a concept.”

How do people learn about NAMI Ending the Silence?

NAMI Ending the Silence presenters are also trained to provide community outreach and marketing for the program. In addition to traditional methods of outreach, such as flyers and brochures, NAMI Ending the Silence is promoted electronically via newsletters, websites and social media maintained by NAMI State Organizations and NAMI Affiliates. As with other NAMI education and support programs, NAMI Ending the Silence offers a vital community resource while also raising public awareness of NAMI generally and introduces NAMI to audiences who do not already know about us.

How can I get involved?

Contact your NAMI Affiliate if you would like to learn more about the NAMI Ending the Silence Program and how to bring it to a school in your area. You can also visit www.nami.org/local or call 800-950-NAMI (6264).

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