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This packet includes stories/poems, discussion questions, activities, a review game and game board.


A Mother’s Day Gift
Brian, a gifted student seemingly destined for success, begins a downward spiral during his junior year in high school.  His deterioration in school work, poor hygiene, and an obsessive drive to get revenge for a minor slight culminates in hospitalization for schizophrenia. 
In a follow-up discussion students consider what their reaction would have been to this dramatic change in behavior, behavioral changes that might be signs of other mental illnesses, how Brian’s parents might have responded, and how mental illness is treated.


The Family Secret
Three evocative poems reprinted from Sonya Sones’ verse novel, Stop Pretending: What Happened When My Big Sister Went Crazy (HarperCollins, 1999) illustrate the toll keeping quiet takes on a younger sister when her older sister develops bipolar disorder. 
In a follow-up discussion and role play students consider the impact of sharing a family secret or keeping it to themselves.   

Nothing to Sneeze At
Emily’s obsessive counting makes her late to school every day and an ill-timed bathroom visit to wash her hands during an exam tests the patience of her teacher. But it isn’t until Emily discovers that a friend is seeing a psychiatrist for depression that she accepts the need for treatment.     
Through follow-up discussion students learn the symptoms of OCD, consider its impact on her school and home life, and discover that depression is a disorder that’s often linked with OCD.


Stigma and the Media
Students create and play out scenes in which advertisers, movie executives, and TV writers are intent on using a stereotype about mental illness to push their product. In each scene a mental health advocate and a family member attempt to dissuade them from taking this stigmatizing course.
In a post play discussion students consider the challenge of countering a time-tested course ad executives and writers know will make money for the corporation.

Famous People with Mental Illness
In this Word Search Game students circle the names of famous people who have or had a mental illness – exps: Abraham Lincoln, Elton John, Margot Kidder, and Sylvia Plath. 
In a follow-up activity students are asked to Match-Up these famous people with the correct description of their accomplishments.

The Brain Game
This popular board game is a team competition in which one half the class vies with the other in answering review questions.  When a team member gets the answer right they draw a card from a Stigma Buster pile which describes model behavior and indicates the number of spaces to move forward on the board.  If a team member gets the answer wrong they draw a card from the Stigma Promoter pile which describes negative behavior and indicates the number of spaces to move backward.  The first team to make it to the center of the board is STIGMA FREE.


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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