4, Summer 2006
ADVOCATES BREAK THE SILENCE NATIONWIDE
School & Community Mental Illness Education Projects
to be a presence in our community and beyond. Most recently Janet
Susin, BTS Co-Author and Project Director, presented BTS materials
to 175 guidance counselors in Region 9, NYC public schools. The
response was overwhelmingly positive. Two of the many enthusiastic
guidance counselors shared, “Please provide staff developments
to our schools teachers, support staff and families” and
“Very motivating to have actual lessons to use as guides
for presenting information to children.” We are grateful
to the Mental Insight Foundation for making this outreach possible.
We were able to give every guidance counselor a copy of BTS. It
took awhile but we infiltrated the NYC public schools!
and Lorraine have been introducing BTS and the need for mental
illness education to community groups at local Long Island libraries
and Parent Teacher Associations. Funding was provided by our local
Friendly’s Restaurants. Schools received framed posters
and there were ice-cream coupons for all! So approach your library
and try the PTA’s- they are always looking for presenters.
(Keep in mind some libraries will pay a small stipend to presenters-
We have been
getting around- Janet and Lorraine presented to medical students
at Albert Einstein Medical College, Bronx, NY and Lorraine had
a great response to her advocacy while on “vacation”
in Florida (see Promise below).
We are moving
ahead with Dr. Otto Wahl and re-submitting our NIMH proposal to
evaluate knowledge learned and attitudinal change resulting from
a series of BTS lessons. Many thanks to those affiliates and schools
who agreed to participate. We will keep you posted on the status
of this significant proposal. We have our fingers crossed!
and Lorraine have been recognized as outstanding volunteers by
their communities and peers. Janet is being awarded the, “Outstanding
NAMI Member Award 2006” at the NAMI National Convention
in June. As stated in a letter to Janet, “In choosing you
for this award, the NAMI National Board applauds your untiring
efforts to promote mental illness education in schools. Your work
to convince schools around the country (along with the work of
the many partners you have attracted to aid you in these efforts)
to adopt the Breaking the Silence program will go a long way toward
ensuring that future generations of Americans will look at mental
illnesses with far less fear and stigma than previous generations.
All of us at NAMI are extremely grateful for your efforts."
Lorraine was recently awarded “Distinguished Volunteer of
the Year 2006” by the Town of Oyster Bay, Nassau County,
NY. Lorraine was presented with a town citation. Her story and
dedication to BTS was written up in her local paper, “Venditto
Announces TOB Women of Distinction Award 2006.”
word only to be found in the dictionary of fools."
Napoleon Bonaparte, Emperor of France
Medical Association Resolution PASSES!!!
A year has
passed since the American Medical Association (AMA) Student’s
Section of the AMA passed the resolution to encourage teaching
about mental illness. Two Medical Student Section delegates, Jana
Montgomery and Kenan Omurtag presented the amended resolution,
currently listed as, "Increasing Detection of Mental Illnesses
and Encouraging Education" at the “big house”
AMA assembly and it was just passed!!!
412 - INCREASING DETECTION OF MENTAL ILLNESS AND ENCOURAGING EDUCATION
Resolution 412 adopted as amended.
Resolution 412 asks our American Medical Association to work with
mental health organizations to encourage patients to discuss mental
health concerns with their physicians and to work with the Department
of Education and state education boards and encourage them to
adopt basic mental health education designed specifically for
elementary through high school students.
testimony was heard in support of this resolution. Testimony was
heard regarding the stigma surrounding mental health issues that
prevents children and families from seeking help and the need
for education. Recommendations were made to expand the organizations
working to encourage discussion of mental health issues and the
groups for which education was designed. Your Reference Committee
agreed with these recommendations.
proposal was developed by a "Breaking the Silence" (BTS)
advocate and volunteer, Erin Callahan, who rallied support from
other medical students at Albert Einstein Medical College and
Lauren Scott, a medical student at SUNY Buffalo School of Medicine
and Biomedical Sciences, respectively.
Ave. Elementary School Teacher Reports
of one my 4th grade students shared with me that her daughter
told her about the BTS lesson. Her daughter spoke about my son
Matt who suffers with mental illness, all she learned about the
different illnesses and the stigma that goes with it. Imagine
that, only 9 years old and she was excited about sharing all she
had learned! Envision the world if we could educate everyone about
our loved ones. Even if I only made an impression on this one
child, it's changing the world.”
Sue Marasciulo, Shoreham-Wading River SD
Porter County, Indiana
Porter County, in collaboration with our local Mental Health Association
and Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA), will present
“Breaking the Silence” to the 5th grade classes at
Portage Township Schools in Indiana. We will be training volunteers
to enter the classrooms and implement the lessons. Eight schools
with three classes each have agreed to participate and we expect
to start teaching the classes in January of 2007. Once we get
Portage schools off the ground we will approach the remainder
of the school systems in Porter County.” Create partnerships,
there is strength in numbers!
Barbara Collins-Layton, Executive Director, NAMI - Porter County
members of the new Mental Health Alliance attended the "Breaking
the Silence" luncheon at the Safe Schools Institute. The
event served as a springboard to engage the new Alliance, introduce
the new coordinators, and learn about a new program to teach about
BTS Co-Author & Director of Educational Outreach told of her
family's adjustment to living with her son's mental illness. She
presented BTS, demonstrated portions of the program and distributed
free learning packets provided by Boca Raton's Promise.
Middleton, President of Boca Raton's Promise, closed the program
with a promise to Alliance members: ‘Our organization promises
to keep the momentum going for this important work’.”
Cultivate relationships. Lorraine met with Promise last year and
continued to network.
Rita Thrasher, Executive Director, Boca Raton’s Promise
certain that you get notes from folks who have experienced BTS
but I must also share a positive and open response I received
from two eighth grade classes yesterday. It was our first “session”
and I was overwhelmed with the eagerness of the kids wanting to
know more about mental illness, stigma busting, signs and symptoms
of mental disorders. Although this is part of what the school
experience should be, a practical life learning opportunity, I
was amazed at their desire to learn. I was asked to return and
respond to more questions that they would like answered. It is
interesting to note, the kids asked about OCD, Bi-Polar disorder,
who to call if a friend shows signs and symptoms, and if they
could seek help anonymously for a friend or parent. Thanks for
letting me share!” Ask to teach BTS in a classroom in your
Debi Lynes, Hilton Head Island, SC
Plan and Grant Writing for BTS in Texas
Texas MH Educators is a nonprofit association wishing to include
the facts of mental illness into the health education curriculum
of every Independent School District (ISD), assuring every Texas
child knows the causes, symptoms, treatments and positive outcomes
of mental illness. Starting in the upper elementary grades health
education curriculum, we aim to partner with ISDs in the inclusion
of existing, approved mental health educational material (Breaking
now are some 23 to 25 Texans working with the BTS materials asking
educators to insert 3 to 4 hours of BTS into the normal physical
health curriculum. A grant proposal is pending that includes a
trip to Texas for Janet and Lorraine (BTS co-authors) to train
health teachers to teach BTS.”
proposal encompasses implementing BTS in 12 classrooms, 3 grade
levels in 4 settings each; about 260 students from one or more
ISD. The strategy is to get BTS approval through meetings with
contacts like School Health Advisory Councils and then select
current health teachers to teach BTS. Special education teachers
will also receive BTS training and they will be part of this self-sustaining
plan. The award notice is expected in July.” This group
has a vision and never gives up!
Alfred Forsten and John Hoezel
give up; be seen and heard in your community. Use your resources,
libraries, rotary associations, local media, PTA’s... Seek
funding from local businesses; make them an offer they can’t
refuse! There are contacts everywhere so be visible, network and
inform everyone about the need for mental illness education.
expressed by Helen Keller,
"We can do anything we want if we stick to it long enough."
continues to grow. We are entering classrooms and students are
receiving lessons on mental illness. We are making a difference.
Thank you everyone.
BTS Director of Public Relations & Development, AmyLax@optonline.net