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

Amy Lax

How to Bring Mental Illness Education to Your Community

Lake Success, N.Y.- February, 2004- “Breaking the Silence; Teaching the Next Generation About Mental Illness” (BTS) recently received a generous grant from the American Psychiatric Foundation to write and disseminate a manual with successful outreach strategies for bringing BTS and mental illness education into schools nationwide. The Tool Kit and a limited supply of BTS for training purposes will be available FREE of charge at

The Tool Kit includes:

Affiliates nationwide continually praise the BTS teaching packets but have often encountered difficulties when approaching their local schools. It was in response to the many emails requesting information and help with school outreach that the Tool Kit was developed.
Many NAMI groups currently doing BTS outreach requested an early Tool Kit draft and the response has been overwhelmingly positive. Fellow advocate Peter Paetsch is using the information in the Tool Kit to design a BTS power point presentation for the Chicago Public Schools.

In discussing BTS and the Tool Kit he enthusiastically says, “Teachers and administrators are provided with a ‘turn-key’ solution to implement this material right away. The accompanying Tool Kit for advocates and volunteers, like me, is extremely thorough. It provides step-by-step tools to introduce and engage school systems – complete with talking points, references, and ideas.” He goes on to add, “As a business leader, I have shared the materials with my staff as an example of a quality program.”
BTS is now in its 4th publication. The newest edition of the upper elementary booklet includes a story about Jessica Lynch, Miss New York State for 2003, and her struggle with childhood depression along with role-plays for cartoon brain puppets that reinforce the lessons learned from the story.

Additions to the high school plans include stories of Jessica and two other extraordinary young people, Ross Szabo, who has bipolar disorder and is director of Youth Outreach for the National Mental Health Awareness Campaign, and Meera Popkin, who starred as Miss Saigon in London a few years ago and is still actively pursuing a theatrical career despite her diagnosis of schizophrenia. This booklet also features a lesson on brain chemistry and how it is affected by mental illness.

BTS is an innovative teaching package which includes lesson plans, games and posters on serious mental illness for three grade levels: upper elementary, middle school, and high school. BTS meets national health education standards. Through stories and activities students learn the warning signs of mental illness, that mental illness can be successfully treated, and how to recognize and combat stigma. BTS is designed to put a human face on mental illness, replacing fear and ridicule with compassion.
To get your FREE copy of the Tool Kit and BTS please visit For questions or comments, email or call 516-326-0797