By Alison Paine
Many teens who develop a mental illness are uncertain about what’s happening and afraid to talk about it. Would you be willing to be a presenter or share the story of your struggle with a mental health issue if it empowered those teens to reach out for the help they need?
Then please join our team. We are a group of youth and parents who educate others about mental health conditions by making 50-minute presentations at schools, community events, and faith organizations. Our presentation is called Ending the Silence (ETS).
Each presentation is tailored to its audience—parents, teachers, or students—and includes slides with information about mental health warning signs or videos of youth who have experienced mental health conditions talking about them candidly.
Included is information about how and who to ask for help. Students, teachers, and parents are given ideas about how to help themselves, friends, or family members needing support. Additionally, each presentation includes personal testimony from a young adult living with a mental illness about his/her journey to recovery.
Young adults are the stars of every event and receive a lot of questions at the end of each presentation. Young adults on the ETS team have said that “volunteering for NAMI is definitely one of the most rewarding experiences in my life, hands down.”
The impact on students attending the presentation is obvious when they fill out the program evaluations. Many indicate that they loved it and learned a lot of new things, or have experienced symptoms themselves and are glad to know they aren’t alone. Starting this month, we’ll be presenting three versions of the ETS program depending on the audience: one for students, another for teachers, and another for parents.
All presenters, young and old, must first go through a 6-hour online training course. Then they participate in a practice session in front of seasoned presenters.
There is hope for youth with mental health warning signs, and treatment and suicide prevention are the main missions of our teams. Our message is powerful and our volunteers are likely saving lives.
We have a small team of seasoned presenters but need many more to reach out to more people and would love it if you’d consider joining us! We will guide you and ease you into presenting. If you’d like to participate, please contact Alison Paine at firstname.lastname@example.org.