The National Alliance on Mental Illness of Montgomery County (NAMI MC) agree wholeheartedly with your recent article about confronting the issue of suicide in our community (“Confronting suicide,” Editor’s Notebook, Sept. 25). We’ve lost too many students locally (four in the last year) to afford not to start talking about it and other mental health issues.
While the loss of Robin Williams was a tragic experience, we must embrace the opportunity to talk openly about mental health issues. We must work hard to “end the silence” surrounding the stigma associated with mental illness.
NAMI MC is here to help. We are a grassroots nonprofit mental health organization, founded by families who wanted to provide education and support for themselves and loved ones living with mental illness and still do. All of our resources – classes, presentations and support groups – are provided free of charge.
In fact, our newest program is called Ending the Silence. Ending the Silence is an in-school presentation about mental health, designed to be implemented in a freshman/sophomore health, science or psychology class. The presentation is led by trained presenters including a young adult living in recovery from mental illness and includes presenter stories, educational slides, videos and discussion. Students take away from the presentation a list of symptoms/warning signs of mental illness as well as recovery and coping strategies, recommendations on how to help a friend who is experiencing mental health problems, a letter to take home to guide a discussion with family and cards with contact information for mental health agencies.
We are working hard to implement this program – as well as an evidence-based suicide prevention program called Sources of Strength – into all Montgomery County public schools.
Please, please step up as trusted adults for the youth in your life. Don’t hesitate to talk about these issues, because a simple conversation could truly make the difference between life and death. Also – don’t hesitate to utilize NAMI MC’s resources, including our website, namimc.org.
MEGAN PAULY, NAMI MC communications director
STEPHANIE ROSEN, NAMI MC executive director