Ending the Silence(ETS) is a national mental health educational program for high school students based on real life experiences. Ending the Silence (ETS) was developed by Brenda & Brian Hilligoss with NAMI DuPage County, Illinois. NAMI DuPage generously gifted ETS to NAMI for national technical support and oversight. The program has been available since 2007 in DuPage County and NAMI affiliates in 7 states have since brought it to their communities. ETS is currently being provided statewide in California. This program had reached over 60,000 students by mid 2013.
NAMI-MH was one of the first NAMI affiliates in NYS selected to be trained in ETS this past August, 2014.
Ending the Silence (ETS) is an in-school presentation. It is typically offered in a freshman/sophomore health, science or psychology class. Students learn about mental illness directly from families and young adults living with mental illness themselves.
ETS program utilizes PowerPoint, videos and personal testimony to help students understand the signs and symptoms of mental illnesses, and how to respond if they see these symptoms in themselves or others. There is also great emphasis on normalizing mental illness, encouraging openness and respect, and reducing stigma.
The presentation’s message of empathy and hope encourages students to actively care for themselves and for their peers, whether by reaching out for help, encouraging a friend or family member to seek help or by reducing stigma. Contact with a positive role model, in the form of the young adult presenter, can powerfully change their views of a common but stigmatized life experience. The discussion portion gives students a rare opportunity to ask questions and learn personal truths about mental illness.
Students leave with a wallet size card that will feature contact information for mental health agencies and youth support services, a list of symptoms/warning signs of mental illness, and recommendations on how to help a friend who is experiencing mental health problems.
According to NAMI DuPage Illinois, 5-6% of students that have seen ETS have either gotten help for themselves or for their friends and family.