NAMI Syracuse offers educational program to local schools

Breaking the Silence is unique in that it is delivered by school teachers rather than by outside experts. These teachers follow a series of pre-designed lesson plans without supervision from others. The program has been available for more than 15 years and has been widely used across the United States and in other countries as well.

NAMI Syracuse has been trying for almost two years to introduce this lesson plan to local schools. They have been met with little success.

“It’s very frustrating,” said Winters Schwartz. “When I first suggested to our board that we take on this task and gather the funding necessary to provide this material at no charge to the schools, I thought it would be a breeze. But between not really knowing who to contact at which school, people not returning our calls, canceling scheduled meetings, or maybe just not wanting to take the time to add a few more hours to their teaching curriculum, we’ve only managed to get it into place in a few schools. Meanwhile, the incidence of mental illness is on the rise, and striking individuals at a younger and younger age.”

Packets for the three grade levels cost about $20 each. NAMI Syracuse is willing to provide these packets at no cost to the schools and teachers willing to teach the lesson plan. NAMI board members are available to help with the lesson plans.

If you are a school administrator or teacher and would like to see the Breaking the Silence Program taught in your school, please call the NAMI Syracuse office at 487-2085, or email namisyracuse@namisyracuse.org.

NAMI Syracuse provides an array of support and community based services to those who suffer directly or indirectly from the effects of these neurologically based illnesses. According to National Institute of Mental Health, more than 50 percent of students with a mental disorder, age 14 and older, drop out of high school — the highest dropout rate of any disability group. Suicide is the third-leading cause of death for people ages 10-24 years, of which 90 percent have a diagnosable mental disorder.

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