LHS, NAMI team up to help students recognize early warning signs of mental illness

‘Ending the Silence’ presentation available on Jan. 29 before Virtual Day classes begin

Kevin Vera

A special event is being held this week on the morning of virtual school before classes begin with the goal of helping students better understand and recognize the signs of mental illness.

The presentation will be done via Zoom at 10:30 a.m. on Friday, Jan. 29. The group that created it is called National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI), which is a national organization whose goal is to help Americans “live healthy, fulfilling lives supported by a community that cares.” 

Ending the Silence on Mental Illness will be about 50 minutes long and all students are welcome to attend, but need to register for the presentation by signing up. Click here for the sign-up sheet for the meeting.

The creators of the program said this is a program specifically tailored for high school students and that those who attend will learn how to recognize the early warning signs of mental illness and what to do if they identify these signs. This information is also given to teach students the warning signs to be aware of in those around them so they can get help for friends or family who may be at risk.

The coordinator for the Ending the Silence Program, Tracy Kondla, knows how this presentation can help students with their personal mental health and their overall lives. 

“Mental health conditions are common and treatable. One in five youth experience a mental health condition in a given year. Treatment works. With early identification and intervention, there is hope,” Kondla said.

Another theme of Ending the Silence on Mental Illness is hope and recovery. Encouraging teenagers to reduce the stigma on mental illness and end the silence around the subject. 

Lafayette Guidance Counselor Terence Small wants the presentation to be another sign that there is help for those in need. 

“The counselors want the students to be empowered to end the silence and to work through the stigma of mental illness by promoting awareness and advocacy. Also, we want the students to know that we are here for them and the counseling office in Room 123 is a safe and positive place for them but also Lafayette at large. We want them to know that there is support and resources readily available,” Small said.

NAMI St. Louis looks to keep sharing Ending the Silence on Mental Illness around the area by making the presentation available to other high schools as well as middle schools in the Rockwood School District and St. Louis County. 

“The goal of NAMI St. Louis Ending the Silence presentations is to create a generation of students who are well-positioned to end the silence and stigma surrounding mental illness,” Kondla said.