At NAMI South Carolina we are Changing and Saving Lives with the Ending the Silence Presentation Program.

Ending the Silence is our newest program for middle and high school students.

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NAMI SC impacts the lives of South Carolinians every day. All of our programs and support groups are designed to help those with a mental illness, their families, and support citizens. None of our programs are more important than the ones effecting our youth. NAMI's Ending the Silence Program, presented primarily in middle and high schools, currently has the highest demand because students want to know the signs of mental illness, suicide prevention, and how to help themselves and others. NAMI SC has presented the program to 20,000 students in the past two years. The demand is incredible. Melanie's story below shows the power of this wonderful training and awareness program.

AT NAMI SOUTH CAROLINA, WE ARE CHANGING AND SAVING LIVES WITH THE ENDING THE SILENCE PRESENTATION PROGRAM!

NAMI Ending the Silence for Students: 50-minute presentation designed for middle and high school students that includes warning signs, facts and statistics and how to get help for themselves or a friend, plus an overview of the warning signs of suicide. Research has shown that NAMI Ending the Silence for Students is effective in changing middle and high school students' knowledge and attitudes toward mental health conditions and toward seeking help.

NAMI Ending the Silence for School Staff: 1-hour presentation for school staff members that includes information about warning signs, facts and statistics, how to approach students and how to work with families.

NAMI Ending the Silence for Families: 1-hour presentation for parents and primary caregivers that includes warning signs, facts and statistics, how to talk with your child and how to work with school staff.

HELP MAKE A DIFFERENCE IN THE LIVES OF CHILDREN AND ADOLESCENTS WITH YOUR DONATION:

Impacts of NAMI's Ending the Silence Presentation –

Melanie Odom Saxon

Our Ending the Silence teams speak to thousands of teens a year, and the impacts on both the students and the presenters are immeasurable. Looking back over the years, two very specific instances come to mind. I vividly remember a teenage girl nervously pulling at her sleeves when I addressed that self-harm is a warning sign of mental illness. After the presentation, she approached me with tears streaming down her face and her bare wrists outstretched to show me the many scars. I spoke with this teen for a while, comforted her, reassured her that she's not alone, and that help is available, then escorted her to her guidance counselor.

The other instance also involves a young, teenage female. Again, after presenting the Ending the Silence presentation, this young lady approached me and my team presenter explaining that she had been very depressed. We both talked to her and provided a warm hand off to her guidance counselor. While we were waiting in the guidance office, this young lady began showing us pictures of her pets, her family members, and other things in

her life. Looking back now with the knowledge that this young lady had a suicide plan in place, perhaps that was a warning sign. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt, that we saved a life that day.

The Ending the Silence Program, not only benefits the students, but the presenters, as well. It has been an incredibly cathartic experience for me to share my personal story about living with Bipolar Disorder. Every time my personal truth hits the air, my soul is freed; the heavy burden of suffering in silence is lifted. Also, being a part of this phenomenal program has completely changed my perspective of my mental health condition. What I once thought was the bane of my existence has now become my most powerful tool to help others that may be struggling with their own mental health issues. The experiences I have had are nothing to be ashamed of, and have, in fact, provided me with a unique set of skills that allow me to help others and give back to my community. In short, NAMI gave my life purpose.