Parents & Teachers as Allies

Recognizing Early-onset Mental Illness in Children and Adolescents

NAMI created Parents and Teachers as Allies to help families and school professionals identify the key warning signs of early-onset mental illnesses in children and adolescents in our schools. It focuses on the specific, age-related symptoms of mental illnesses in youngsters. The program is intended to provide an educational program for advancing mutual understanding and communication between families and school professionals.

The program includes information on:

  • Becoming allies: Acknowledging different perspectives
  • The heart of the matter: Children robbed of childhood
  • Keys to early recognition, intervention, and treatment
  • Learning and working together as allies
  • Signs of early-onset mental illnesses in children and adolescents such as ADHD, Anxiety disorders, depressive disorders, bipolar disorder, disruptive mood disorder, OCD, ODD, CD, schizophrenia
  • Understanding family reactions to symptoms and behaviors associated with the illnesses
  • Navigating the referral process as allies
  • Strengthening the alliance: How NAMI can help

Parents and Teachers as Allies makes clear that families and school professionals are natural allies in working to ensure that youth with early-onset mental illness receive timely and appropriate treatment. NAMI looks forward to working with and supporting school professionals and families to improve the lives and educational outcomes of children with mental health conditions.

Teacher testimonials from Ending the Silence and Parents & Teachers as Allies

“I am thankful that you come to DGN and talk to the students. It is priceless….really! Just the other day a student thanked me for bringing you guys in to talk to her. She thought that after your presentation that she was depressed. Come to find she was and she did receive the help she needed. She is doing much better now and is continuing her therapy. Another student recently talked with me to help a friend that was cutting herself. It is amazing what just one day, one talk can do. You never really know what is going on in the brain of any particular student.

Think about all of the responses you have received and the lives you have touched. I will continue to give my students a chance to let their voices be heard.”

– Christine Tomek, Health Teacher at Downers Grove North High School

“On behalf of the health staff and students at Waubonsie Valley High School, thank you for presenting the various types of mental illness, getting help and how to be there for someone struggling with mental illness. An important part of the presentation was the personal stories shared by Jack and Alicia. Our students learned so much more because of the examples they gave in their stories. The presentation materials were also helpful and we used the booklet in our follow-up discussion the next day.

We are so fortunate to have community organizations and willing volunteers to educate our students on such an important topic like mental illness. Thank you again for sharing your expertise and for your professionalism …..You really make a positive impact on our students.”

– Millie Shepich, Health Educator at Waubonsie Valley High School

“As a health educator I am confident that the curriculum we provide our students is comprehensive and reflective of the state and national standards as well as the specific needs of our student’s lives. However, often times in health education, and unfortunately society today, the recognition of mental health issues as well as an open discussion of resources available are overlooked for a number of reasons. I feel strongly that NAMI’s Ending the Silence program has filled a large gap in our curriculum specifically related to:

1) Identification of the major classification of mental illness

2) Resources for those with a mental illness; while most importantly

3) Education on reducing the stigma associated with those with a mental illness

I feel fortunate to have such an excellent addition to our health education program, and since NAMI has partnered with Hinsdale South, I have experienced a very positive response from students and parents alike in our community. Of special importance are the discussions that take place after NAMI leaves the classroom related to how valuable the students feel it was to hear an individual share their personal story and the powerful impact that has on the willingness we have to address mental and emotional concerns.

In closing, I am extremely confident that NAMI of DuPage’s “Ending the Silence’ program has grown to become an integral addition to our curriculum as well as a valuable resource to our community.”

– Jim Bondi, Health Educator at Hinsdale South High School

For more information on bringing this program to your school, staff, etc. please contact:
Rachel Tsen – Youth Education Director
r.tsen@namidupage.org