Each day at NAMI DuPage, we confront the harsh reality of what the United States Surgeon General has labeled “the defining public health crisis of our time” – the growing mental health needs of our youth.
Recent statistics are deeply concerning. It’s estimated that between 30-40% of our youth experience anxiety and/or depression, with the age of onset becoming alarmingly younger. Tragically, we are witnessing a surge in suicide rates among our children and young adults, with the CDC reporting that as many as 9% of high school students have attempted suicide.
But in the face of this crisis, we firmly believe in the power of hope, recovery, and resilience. NAMI DuPage has been a leader in youth mental health programs for decades, making a significant impact through our “Ending the Silence Program,” which has reached over 100,000 DuPage students since 2007. Developed by NAMI DuPage and adopted by NAMI Affiliates nationwide, this program equips students to recognize signs and symptoms of mental illness, access resources, and combat the stigma around mental health. What sets it apart is the invaluable perspective of individuals with lived experience who bravely share their own mental health journeys, helping students realize that mental illness can impact anyone, and that recovery is possible.
Our commitment to youth extends far beyond classroom presentations. In addition to school programs for grades 5-12, we offer a dedicated teen support group, stress relief workshops, and crucial resources for parents and teachers. We’ve established a NAMI on Campus Club at the College of DuPage and actively participate in anti-stigma campaigns in local high schools. Each year, we touch the lives of over 15,000 young individuals and their families through our youth programs.
Yet, the demand for our services outpaces our resources. We hope you will partner with us in our effort to expand services to address some of the most urgent needs of children and families, including:
1. Launching “Teen Talk,” an online forum for teens to ask mental health questions and discuss mental health topics
2. Offering more workshops focusing on mental health issues relevant to teens.
3. Expanding programs to reach at-risk populations, including the court system and abused or neglected children.
4. Creating a support group tailored for tweens and enhancing workshops for younger students.
5. Establishing additional NAMI on Campus Clubs in local colleges and high schools.
6. Offering more support for parents through 1:1 services with social workers and peers
7. Undertaking a sustainability analysis for a teen drop-in center, addressing ongoing mental health needs in a non-clinical setting.
Each of these vital initiatives requires additional resources – dedicated staff, passionate peers, and crucially, financial support.
We invite you to join us in this critical endeavor. Your contribution, whether financial, volunteer engagement, or advocacy, will make a tangible difference in the lives of thousands of young people and their families in our community. Together, we can build a stronger, healthier and more resilient community for everyone.
Please consider making a donation today by visiting us at namidupage.org/donate or mailing a check to our offices. We welcome the opportunity to discuss how you can personally get involved, and we thank you for your time, compassion, and unwavering commitment to the well-being of our youth.
Geri Kerger | Executive Director
115 N County Farm Rd. Wheaton, IL 60187
To view a copy of the mailing sent out, please click HERE.