ARLINGTON, Va., June 26, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Today, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) announced the nationwide expansion of their flagship teen program, Ending the Silence, due to a generous gift from Former Second Lady of the United States, Tipper Gore. The announcement comes as more than 1,600 mental health advocates from across the country head to Washington, DC this week for NAMI's National Convention, which will be held June 28th – July 1st.
The $1 million gift will enable NAMI affiliates throughout the country to adopt the early intervention program so that more middle school and high school students will have access to the program, that is designed to reduce the stigma surrounding mental illness and help young people get the treatment they need.
One-half of all chronic mental illness begins by the age of 14, and according to a recent study, 13.6 percent of boys and 36.1 percent of girls experience depression by age 17. Suicide is the third leading cause of death for ages 10 to 14 and the second for ages 15 to 24.
"Mrs. Gore is a woman of extraordinary insight, courage and compassion whose advocacy has been devoted especially to children and families. She has given hope to millions of Americans and with her support, NAMI will continue these efforts with a new generation of middle and high school students," said NAMI CEO Mary Giliberti.
"I've worked for decades to help Americans with mental illness, and I am thrilled to be working with NAMI to end the silence and help our children understand they are not alone, and to learn how to ask for the help they need," said Mrs. Tipper Gore. "Mental illness is a public health crisis in the United States. Too many people—especially young adults—live undiagnosed, untreated, and unable to reach their full potential. Armed with knowledge and understanding, and having open and honest communications can help everyone know there is no shame in needing help. It is empowering to ask for help."
NAMI Ending the Silence is a 50-minute early intervention program that engages youth in a discussion about mental health. Teens learn to recognize early warning signs of mental health conditions and what to do if they or someone they know is showing these signs. They can ask questions of family members and individuals experiencing mental health conditions. The chance to hear directly from a young adult with a mental health condition dispels myths and stereotypes, instills a message of hope and recovery and encourages teens to reduce stigma. By engaging teens in discussions about mental health conditions with their peers, youth who may be experiencing mental health issues can realize they're not alone.
Tipper Gore has dedicated her life to giving voice to parents, children and families. She served as Mental Health Policy Advisor to President Clinton, and convened the first-ever White House Conference on Mental Health in 1999. She was instrumental in passing the Mental Health Parity Act in 1996, which helped end the disparity in treating people with physical injuries and mental illnesses. In 1990, she founded Tennessee Voices for Children, a coalition to promote services for children and youth with behavioral, emotional, substance abuse, or other mental health challenges.
NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, is the nation's largest grassroots organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness.
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SOURCE National Alliance on Mental Illness