Mental Illness Awareness Week: Reaching Troubled Youth in Our Schools

Parents and Schools Must Work in Tandem
Educating School Professionals about Mental Illness

Ideas from the National Alliance On Mental Illness (NAMI) to help us help our nation’s schools adress the ways to meet the mental and emotional needs of America’s greatest resource: our children.

Here are some ideas for approaching schools during Mental Illness Awareness Week:

1) School Board.
Organize a group of parents to meet with school board members to talk about the impact that early onset mental illness has on children, especially on school and family life. Ask for their support to help educate other leaders in the school community.

2) Superintendent.
Ask a group of parents to meet with the superintendent of the school district. Share information about mental illness in school-aged children.

Brainstorm ideas about how the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and schools can work together to best address the needs of students living with mental illness.

3) Health Professionals meet with school counselors, social workers, and psychologists
and nurses, all of whom have the potential to be close allies in raising awareness about mental illness in schools. Ask how everyone can best work together to improve the academic and functional achievement of students with mental illness.

4) General and Special Education Teachers.
Find teachers in the community who are also family members and ask for their help in developing stronger alliances with the schools.

5) PTA.
Ask PTA leaders in one or more schools about presenting at the next scheduled PTA meeting about mental illness in children.

6) “Parents and Teachers as Allies” Mental Health Education Program.
Consider presenting NAMI?s Parents and Teachers as Allies in-service mental health education program for school professionals in the schools in your district.

For more information about the in-service program, visit or
contact NAMI?s Child and Adolescent Action Center at (703) 524-7600. NAMI?s
Parents and Teachers as Allies: Recognizing Early-onset Mental Illness in
Children and Adolescents pamphlet was designed to help raise awareness in the school community about mental illness in children. The publication, available in the NAMI book store, is very popular with school professionals around the
country and can be a great tool for outreach efforts.

7) Faith Outreach.
Many churches and synagogues have weekly or monthly bulletins announcing events in
the community. Submit MIAW activities for publication along with a short piece on the
importance of ending stigma against people with severe mental illness. Stress the challenges people living with severe mental illness face and the ways others can provide spiritual support.

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