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This packet includes stories, discussion questions, activities, and a poster.


Test Your Knowledge About Mental Illness A True/False test clarifying common misconceptions.
Through post test discussion students learn the difference between such terms as mental illness and mental retardation; psychotic versus psychopathic; the relationship between mental illness and violence; and the impact the media has on our perception of mental illness.

Lesson on Schizophrenia A lesson that uses brief narrative passages and questions and answers to illustrate:  the symptoms of schizophrenia; its prevalence; possible causes and treatments; its personal and societal impact, and the important role friends can play in helping someone recover.  

Schizophrenia: The Most Misunderstood Mental Illness Excerpts from two published first person accounts of schizophrenia give examples of the hallucinations and delusions characteristic of the disorder.
 Students are asked to describe the symptoms illustrated in each narrative and draw generalizations about schizophrenia from them. 


Captive: Living with Bipolar Disorder – In this excerpt from her memoir gifted African American writer, Denise Reed, tries to give her family insight into her manic state. Talking a mile a minute she describes unsuccessful attempts to capture bizarre flights of fancy on a “brain wave recorder” but says her thoughts are coming too fast for her to catch hold of them.  All her family understands is that she needs help.    
In a follow-up discussion students are asked to identify symptoms of mania illustrated in the story and consider if her family did the right thing in hospitalizing her. They also learn about the cultural biases that prevent diverse groups such as African Americans, Asians, and Hispanics from getting needed help. 

Substance Abuse and Mental Illness: The Wrong Kind of RX
Andrew’s relationship with his father is strained to the breaking point when he turns to alcohol, marijuana and hard drugs, rather than getting treatment for his anxiety disorder and depression.   
In a follow-up discussion students consider such topics as: what does it mean to self-medicate; what is an anxiety disorder; how can it be treated; can substance abuse cause mental illness. They also learn facts about the relationship between substance abuse and mental illness and the societal impact if it goes untreated.

Meeting the Challenge of Mental Illness
This section features stories of individuals who are leading successful lives, despite their mental illness.  They are Jessica Lynch, Miss New York State 2003 (depression), Ross Szabo, author of Behind Happy Faces and Youth Director of the National Mental Health Awareness Campaign (bipolar disorder)  and Meera Popkin, who was in the Broadway cast of “Cats” and “Starlight Express” (schizophrenia)
In follow-up discussion students are asked to consider such questions as what personal qualities have help these individuals meet the challenge of living with mental illness and what strategies they’ve used to help them cope.


Role Play: Practice What You’ve Learned
Students role plays scenes from the perspective of a parent, friend, teacher, and coach in which they consider what to do about someone they suspect may have a mental illness and/or substance abuse problem.
Scenes are planned and performed that illustrate the symptoms of a psychiatric disorder and strategies that might be used to get someone into treatment. 

Are These the Normal Ups and Downs of Adolescence or Mental Illness?
This is a worksheet that asks student to label described behaviors as either normal (N) or Abnormal (A).
Students work either individually or with a partner(s) in doing the worksheet.  A class discussion follows in which students discuss their answers and the teacher acknowledges the complexity of diagnosing a mental illness. 

Recognizing Mental Illness
This is a crossword puzzle that can be used to review symptoms of the various mental illnesses and related terminology.


Warning Signs of Mental Illness
This striking 24” x 36” purple and yellow poster includes warning signs of mental illness, a message about who in the school students can  turn to for help,  and the important role classmates  can play in getting help for a friend.


Preview Video: Student Voices Loud and Proud


This video for middle and high school students features young people doing extraordinary things to increase understanding and acceptance of those with mental illness. It is a call to action that can serve as a model for changing attitudes and combating the stigma surrounding mental disorders.

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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

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