Ending the Silence Program for Middle Schools Nearly Ready

NAMI Minnesota has already reached over 2,000 High School students this 2019-2020 school year through its Ending the Silence program. This has been a very powerful presentation that has helped many students come forward about their mental health needs and seek help from teachers and other school staff. However, there is another group that also needs to hear this important information, and that is Middle School students. Fifty percent of all mental illnesses occur by age 14, many starting around puberty, making this a particularly vulnerable group.

NAMI has taught Ending the Silence at Middle Schools in the past, but due to the developmental differences between middle and high school students, it has not been found to be as effective with reaching this younger audience. Because of this, NAMI Minnesota has decided to develop its own Middle School mental health curriculum.

The Middle School curriculum is going to cover similar content to Ending the Silence but is striving to deliver that information in a way that is better suited for younger adolescents. It will still teach about mental health, mental illnesses, suicide prevention, and how to get help. Like all NAMI programs, it will also encourage its audience to speak up about mental health and to fight discrimination against mental illnesses. However, there will be more interactive activities throughout the program in order to maintain student engagement.

NAMI Minnesota also interviewed children’s mental health professionals to find out what Middle School students need to learn most when it comes to their mental health. NAMI Minnesota used this information to decide to add an extra section to the curriculum about maintaining good mental health amidst technology.

Topics include what to do about cyber-bullying, mental health apps, and good sleep hygiene. NAMI Minnesota has finished interviewing mental health professionals and has completed a draft of the middle school curriculum. It is now putting together focus groups of Middle School teachers and counselors in order enhance this curriculum to be more developmentally appropriate. NAMI Minnesota is hoping to have this curriculum ready to teach in the classroom by Spring 2020.

For more information about scheduling an Ending the Silence program for Middle Schools or High Schools, contact NAMI Minnesota at 651-645-2948.