Poster line


How BTS Began | Bios | Mission | NIMH


“NAMI is dedicated to the eradication of mental illnesses and to the improvement of the quality of life of all whose lives are affected by these diseases.” NAMI website

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) is a nonprofit, grassroots, self-help, support and advocacy organization of consumers, families, and friends of people with severe mental illnesses, such as schizophrenia, major depression, bipolar disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and anxiety disorders.

Founded in 1979, NAMI has more than 220,000 members who seek equitable services for people with severe mental illnesses, which are known to be biological brain disorders. Working on the national, state, and local levels, NAMI provides education about severe brain disorders, supports increased funding for research, and advocates for adequate health insurance, housing, rehabilitation, and jobs for people with serious psychiatric illnesses.

The growth of our local NAMI chapter parallels the growth of NAMI on the national level. Three families in affiliation with LIJ/Hillside Hospital founded NAMI Queens/Nassau in 1980. Since then our membership has grown to 600+ families, and we are the second largest NAMI affiliate out of 55 in New York State.


  • In 1991 three veteran teachers who are also mothers of children with a serious mental illness, conceived of the idea of developing lesson plans to teach students about serious mental illness. Janet Susin, a teacher and mother of a mentally ill son, initiated the project and chaired the NAMI-NYS committee that wrote the lesson plans.  Working with committee members Lorraine Kaplan and Louise Slater they created lessons that grew out of their personal experience both as parents and teachers.
  • As parents they saw the devastating impact that ignorance and stigma had on their children’s lives and as teachers they saw first hand the pain young people with mental illness suffer when they are taunted and ridiculed by classmates.  They hoped to create greater tolerance for all children with mental illness and to encourage them to seek help and early treatment.

  • Originally called "Shhh….Lessons on Mental Illness” they were first printed and distributed with support from NAMI (National Alliance for the Mentally Ill) as well as NAMI-New York State and our own affiliate, NAMI Queens/Nassau. When NAMI launched its five-year Campaign to End Discrimination they turned to us to further develop our educational materials.

  • "Breaking the Silence: Teaching the Next Generation About Mental Illness" was published in 1999. Since its inception the project has captured the imagination of NAMI chapters around the country who have promoted our lesson plans in their states. It was our hope that by providing teachers with attractive, user-friendly materials they would be used to help break the cycle of ignorance and stigma.
  • BTS continues to receive accolades from teachers, mental health professionals and other advocates. We have received orders both large and small from 51 states, as well as parts of Canada, Japan, Armenia, Ireland, Australia and the Virgin Islands. BTS has been translated into Spanish for distribution in parts of Mexico.
  • Since NAMI Queens Nassau (Q/N) took over distribution in 2001 we continue to receive orders from NAMI affiliates nationwide.
  • Many chapters and affiliates received the original version of BTS through a free distribution funded by NAMI in 1999.
  • Orders received by BTS include the following:
    • School staff including teachers, psychologists, social workers, guidance counselors, school nurses, and administrators
    • Mental Health advocacy groups
    • State and local governmental agencies
    • Faith based organizations


Breaking The Silence: Teaching the Next Generation about Mental Illness
NAMI Queens/Nassau 1981 Marcus Avenue, Suite C-117   Lake Success, NY   11042     ph. 516-326-0797   fax: 516-437-5785

site map