3, Winter 2005
ADVOCATES BREAK THE SILENCE NATIONWIDE
& Community Mental Illness Education Projects
Word is spreading
and perseverance prevails as we are “Breaking the Silence”
about mental illness in communities across the country. "Never
doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can
change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has."
American anthropologist Margaret Mead speaks for us all, as we
continue to crusade for mental illness education.
Thanks to funding this past year from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation
there are over 50 new BTS outreach projects occurring in urban,
rural and suburban communities nationwide. Projects are large
and small; some reaching many school districts, some reaching
one. Each is significant and all are creating awareness of the
need for educating students about mental illness.
hospitals, NAMI groups, mental heath organizations and school
health education departments are among those spearheading BTS
projects. There are presentations and conferences being made to
school nurses, teachers, administrative staff, psychologists,
community centers, after school programs, colleges and the media.
Many of you are going into the classroom and also presenting BTS
at school assemblies. Some are offering in-service and staff training;
others are reaching out to faith based community groups. Approaches
vary but the out come is the same.
Our corporate sponsor
for the past three years, J&B Restaurant Partners, owners
of Long Island Friendly’s Restaurants is funding BTS presentations
at community libraries and school Parent Teacher Associations.
In addition to a $5500.00 donation, they are offering all attendees
coupons to a local Friendly’s. Try approaching a local business,
offer them visibility and recognition in return for a donation
that will contribute to your project. Press Release: MENTAL HEALTH
IS EVERYONE'S BUSINESS.
Mary DuBose McAiley for her continued efforts and $100.00 contribution
from Chatrocks! Don’t forget to get your bracelet at www.chatrocks.org.
Once again, Erin Callahan,
our very special medical student volunteer who introduced BTS
and the concept of mental illness education at the June student
section of the American Medical Association continues to make
a difference. We are told that the amended resolution reads,”
Reducing Stigma and Increasing Detection of Mental Illness; An
Initiative to Encourage Mental Health Education in Public Schools.”
The resolution will be heard at the national AMA conference in
Chicago in June. Erin has invited BTS co-authors Janet Susin and
Lorraine Kaplan to present BTS to a medical student conference
on mental illness at Albert Einstein Medical College. Erin was
a spokesperson for a specific hormonal contraceptive and was paid
$400.00 from Ogilvy for her interview. She donated it all to BTS.
Thank you Erin!
BTS at NAMI Q/N is looking for middle school health classes/health
teachers who are willing to participate in a research study evaluating
knowledge learned and attitudinal change as a result of implementing
BTS lessons. We are working on this very significant project with
Dr. Otto Wahl, University of Hartford. If you have a connection
or relationship with your middle school and think they might agree
to participate, please contact Amy at email@example.com
for more information regarding this project. There have been many
requests and inquiries for research based data and we hope to
provide it but WE NEED YOUR HELP.
Thanks to Voz Pro Salud Mental, the Voice for Mental Health, in
Cuernavaca, Mexico, BTS is now translated into Spanish. They are
seeking funds to print and disseminate BTS in Mexico. This group
moves fast, we are proud of their work and look forward to extending
our reach south of the border! http://portal.vozprosaludmental.org.mx
Big Plans in Texas
The Texas Mental Health Educators is a newly formed nonprofit
dedicated to mental illness education. It is their mission to
insure that every Texas child knows (1) mental illness is an illness,
(2) the symptoms (3) there are positive treatments , (4) excellent
outcomes occur, and (5) the earlier the treatment the better the
out come. They have prepared a business plan that targets piloting
BTS in 15 to 20 school districts in its first year. ( Texas has
1000 school districts). Their goal is to partner with ISD's (Independent
School Districts) and assist with the inclusion of BTS into the
health education curriculum of each Texas child starting in the
upper elementary grades.
to Alfred Forsten and John Hoezel who co chair the group, their
mantra will be "Children are 25% of our population, but 100%
of our future". Their first meeting determined that the initial
25 volunteers would spearhead the outreach by creating grassroots
regional organizations to target and partner with 15 to 20 ISD's
as pilot sites for BTS implementation. The group will also be
working with the Texas Education Agency on the importance of mental
health for all students. Alfred's next presentation is to a group
of mental health professionals at a mental health conference sponsored
by the Houston MHMR Authority on their 40th Anniversary. No stone
is left unturned; John Hoezel has prepared an article for the
Texas Nami Newletter on the need to use BTS in the schools. This
group plans on reaching out to 165 retired/active teachers from
their church and to approach their Substance Abuse Provider Coalition
which already has a presence in 19 local schools. Alfred, firstname.lastname@example.org
Everywhere I go I look for opportunities to talk about my passion;
spreading the word about BTS. It is amazing how many opportunities
there are. For example, I belong to an organization called Brandeis
Women University Committee which has its own fine agenda, to advocate
for the medical library at Brandeis University. One of their "Study
Groups" is called Community Service. I asked to speak at
their meeting and tell them about mental illness and my project.
These women embraced BTS. They have done mailings, attended to
displays at conferences, registered walkers at our annual NAMI
Walk and some have even been trained to speak in schools, libraries
and at PTA meetings.
When I play
bridge, attend luncheons, go to parties or when people ask what
I do in my spare time I tell them about my involvement with BTS.
Since mental illness strikes one in five, (and most people do
not talk about it), it is amazing to see the interest. I have
a wonderful group of volunteers that have come through these informal
conversations who are vital to our BTS outreach. So keep your
eyes and ears open for opportunities to spread the word. You will
be delighted with the wonderful results. Networking really works!
Lorraine Kaplan, BTS Director of Educational Outreach, email@example.com
of San Mateo County
Arlene Aquino, Mental Health Association of San Mateo County,
has a relationship with her local NAMI and wrote an article about
BTS for the October 2005 issue of NAMI San Mateo News, “Breaking
the Silence through Education.” She reports to us that so
far she has heard from mental health staff, family members, and
clients about how great it is to have materials to reach out to
students. Teachers have not contacted her yet, but because of
the article, she received names of school contacts. She now has
more requests for presentations in organizations and churches.
Arlene will be adding BTS to the MHA E-newsletter and website.
Partnerships work! ArleneA@mhasmc.org
Mental Illness Education in Through the Back Door
A requirement to include mental illness in the health education
curriculum has always been at the very top of our wish list, but
pressing for a legislative mandate has seemed unrealistic in the
light of our already full New York State legislative agenda. Recently,
however, an opportunity arose to make some headway in this area.
A curriculum titled “A Guidance Document for Achieving the
NYS Standards in Health Education” was posted on the State
Ed website in November, and although the words “mental health”
appear in the document in the context of such things as relationships,
bullying, and stress management, the words mental illness are
nowhere to be found. Moreover, mental illness as the possible
underlying cause for substance abuse and suicide is ignored.
That’s the bad
news. The good news is that the document is described as a work
in progress. NAMI-NYS’s Education Committee will ask for
revisions and additions and, if necessary, form a coalition to
press for change. We also expect to enlist the help of NYS Commissioner
of Mental Health, Sharon Carpinello, who has put suicide prevention
at the top of her advocacy agenda.
Have any of
you had experience trying to enact a requirement to include mental
illness education in the health curriculum? Please tell us about
it!! This is an area where we all have a lot to learn from one
another. Janet Susin, BTS Project Director firstname.lastname@example.org
This fall my outreach work has involved sending out advertising
flyers through BOCES/SETRC to key people at all elementary, middle,
and high schools in our TST BOCES District. I continue to “network”
and plan to try to set up meetings in January with staff at the
schools that are not as engaged. I am taking more opportunities
to allow present participants to tell others about BTS.
I have been making
headway implementing BTS in both middle and high school classes.
I’m finding that these older kids are great listeners and
have thoughtful, serious questions. It helps a lot to have health
teachers who really feel this topic is important and lacking in
their curriculum. One 5 th grade teacher coordinator told me recently
that “my reputation has preceded me!” I have been
presenting to all 5 th grade student classes in that school for
3 years and, apparently, both teachers and students look forward
to my presentations – she said they seemed to be “glued”
to their seats!! Of course, 4 th and 5 th graders ask the most
questions and make the most comments!
offers a wonderful opportunity to reach at least one child or
one adult who may be suffering the pain of mental illness. Carol
Scouts of Delaware-Raritan, Inc.
We have been doing great with our Mental Well-Being patch program
for Brownies and Juniors, serving over 300 Girl Scouts for the
2004-2005 Girl Scout year. We have BTS available as a resource
for those interested. I’m looking forward to another successful
year. Lisa Cheng , Program Specialist, Lisa.Cheng@gsofdr.org
Tennessee orders and disseminates 200 BTS lesson plans and 200
Brenda is a graduate school intern with NAMI Tennessee. Her goal
is to have a database completed before she leaves in April so
that her successor can continue the statewide efforts already
in progress. As a mental health professional she will continue
to strive to reduce stigma in Maury County. BTS will be one of
the tools used in this effort.
us that NAMI-TN is promoting BTS on a statewide level and is very
hopeful that BTS will be implemented in Maury County. “I
am very encouraged by the reports that I am receiving from other
areas of the state. NAMI affiliates throughout Tennessee are working
on obtaining permission to implement BTS in schools and other
settings. Some affiliates and educators are currently educating
children and youth in the classrooms. The need for mental illness
education is strong and evident. I gave a PowerPoint presentation
to a group of professionals on stigma and BTS. I was disappointed
at the degree of laughter that occurred throughout my presentation.
Prior to taking my seat, I did address the issue of their behavior
and asked that they would work to reduce the stigma that they
were perpetuating.” Tennessee doesn’t miss a beat,
using every opportunity that arises. Brenda Dawson, Brenda.email@example.com
County is working hard to get their BTS program up and running.
“We have a committee of seven volunteers who have reviewed
the BTS material and are ready to present the information to local
schools. We have modified the BTS PowerPoint presentation to include
local mental health statistics. This presentation will be presented
by our committee to school principals and other interested groups.
We have already met informally with principals and counselors
at 5 schools, but we are looking to formalize the process. Our
goal for the upcoming year is to have BTS in an elementary, middle
and high school. Once we’ve established ourselves in these
schools and the word gets out about this great program, we plan
to expand accordingly.” Visual aids help. If anyone needs
a PowerPoint presentation, let BTS know. Susan Reid, Executive
Director, NAMI Beaufort County firstname.lastname@example.org
Illinois NAMI-Vermilion County
We are lacking in our country. Our government does not recognize
the difference between bad behaviors and childhood mania. Sadly,
we promote jails and the construction of bigger/better ones while
closing inpatient units in local hospitals. BTS enlightens and
educates about the biochemical imbalances that folks with mental
illness suffer. Having presented BTS in the classroom, I know
that BTS encourages conversation among the students and staff
and promotes an increased awareness of the need to understand
that mental illnesses are not behavioral problems. Currently a
school board member, I was given the opportunity to present BTS
to administrators and the two social workers for our district.
They were very open to the program and I believe the social worker
for the middle school is using BTS.
I often get frustrated
and feel as though no one listens. Until a person is faced with
mental illness (themselves or a loved one) there is little or
no understanding about these disorders. I was recently asked to
serve on a school improvement committee. I hope to promote awareness
of this misunderstood disease. I will be taking BTS with me! Congratulations
on your committee position, they are listening!
Janet Martin, email@example.com
As our funding cycle is coming to an end, we remain grateful to
the W. K. Kellogg Foundation for their commitment to BTS. We hope
to be able to continue the newsletter. We all remain connected
in our effort to mainstream mental illness; educate all parents,
students and teachers about this no fault disease. Please continue
to send your comments, questions, success stories and frustrations
It is through your continued work that we will “Break the
Physiologist, said it best, "Action is the catalyst that
creates accomplishments. It is the path that takes us from uncrafted
hopes to realized dreams." Congratulate yourself and keep
BTS Director of Public Relations & Development, AmyLax@optonline.net