NAMI Queens / Nassau
1983 Marcus Ave. Lake Success, NY 11042 516-326-0791

Amy Lax


Long Island, NY- October, 2003- This fall, a group of retired teachers will be educating the next generation of health educators about “Breaking the Silence; Teaching the Next Generation About Mental Illness (BTS)” at local Long Island colleges and universities. BTS is a user-friendly teaching module that meets national health education standards. The kit includes games, posters and stories destigamtizing mental illness and educating upper elementary, middle and high school students about these brain disorders. With support from the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI), three veteran teachers, who are also mothers of children with a serious mental illness, developed lesson plans to teach students about serious mental illness.

” Health classes discuss all the major illnesses- AIDS, heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. With mental illness affecting one in ten children and one in five adults, it should be part of every child’s education. I am so deeply committed to this project and mental illness education for all students that I am participating in a research project that will evaluate BTS and validate its effectiveness,” said Dr. Shannon Whelan, Department of Health Studies, Physical Education, and Human Performance Science, Adelphi University. Dr. Whelan has invited a BTS retired teacher volunteer to discuss implementing the curriculum with her health education students.

“ The necessity of educating future teachers on the subject of mental illness was more than evident in the response of my students,” explained Professor Maureen Mannix, Molloy College. She went on to add, “In a follow-up lesson, my students praised the presentation and discussed the benefits of the ‘Breaking the Silence’ lesson plans.”

“Retired teachers are ideal for educating the next generation of teachers about this innovative curriculum. They are dedicated to creating classrooms that dispel the myths and fight the stigma of mental illness,” explained Lorraine Kaplan, Educational Director and BTS co-author.

Other NAMI affiliates and mental health advocates across the country continually request information on how to break the silence in their schools. The educational committee at NAMI Q/N will provide other groups with training information and continue working with volunteers to bring BTS to future teachers on college and university campuses within the NYC metropolitan area.

BTS is currently being used in many Nassau and Suffolk school districts, as well as 43 states, parts of Canada, Japan and the Virgin Islands. Each lesson packet is available with board game or poster for $12.50 or $35.00 for all three, upper elementary, middle and high school. NAMI is a grassroots, self-help, support and advocacy organization of consumers, families and friends of people with mental illness. For further information on BTS and NAMI contact NAMI Q/N at 516-326-0797 or visit