NAMI Vermont Expands Ending the Silence (ETS)

NAMI Ending the Silence

NAMI Vermont recently expanded the NAMI Ending the Silence (ETS) program, a moving presentation that encourages audience members to break down stigma around youth mental health. Previously, this presentation was offered only to middle and high school students. Thanks to a generous grant from the Vermont Community Foundation, we can now provide the program to family members of students and school staff so they know how to help the youth in their lives.

On October 27, 2022, ETS presenters Alex Wonnell and Alexina Federhen (Miss Vermont 2022) gave the first Ending the Silence for Families presentation at North Country Union High School. They did a great job and we are excited to continue offering this new presentation format!

smiling young man and woman point at table with NAMI Vermont sign
Alex and Alexina at North Country Union High School.

What is Ending the Silence?

Ending the Silence is an educational and support-oriented presentation for middle and high school students, their family members, and/or school staff. During an Ending the Silence presentation, two trained volunteers share educational information about mental health such as recognizing warning signs of mental illness, tips on how to help someone who is struggling, and discussion of suicide prevention. Presenters also share their personal story with mental health challenges and their path to recovery. ETS Presentations are free, last 50-60 minutes, and may be given in-person or virtually. They include short videos, a PowerPoint, personal stories from the presenters, and a Q&A period that allows for dialogue with the audience.

Ending the Silence for Families

Ending the Silence for Families is intended for adult family members of a teen or child with mental health struggles. Learn how to identify when a young person may be struggling, how to talk to them about it, and how to talk with school staff about your child’s mental health.

Ending the Silence for School Staff

Ending the Silence for School Staff provides teachers, counselors, school nurses, or other faculty with the tools they need to talk with students about mental health. Audience members will receive advice on how to know when a student is struggling, how to help them, and how to navigate conversations with parents/guardians.

How to Become a Presenter

We are actively seeking new volunteers to become ETS presenters in order to support the program expansion. Presenters must have lived experience with a mental health condition or be a close family member of someone with a mental health condition. Volunteers may be trained as a Lead Presenter or a Young Presenter (18–35).

As an ETS presenter, you will engage the audience with your brave and gripping personal story of mental health recovery while following the established structure of the presentation. Make a difference in the lives of our youth by encouraging them to talk openly about mental health and by coaching the adults in their lives to start the conversation. The free training is online, self-paced, and includes a mock presentation to practice and ensure quality prior to giving a live presentation. 

“If you or a loved one has experienced a mental health condition, and you believe in the need to end the silence and stigma, then consider being a presenter,” said Anne Marie Lavalette, Program Coordinator at NAMI Vermont. “By sharing your time and personal story you will find that it not only helps you in your own healing journey, but you will become a part of a movement that changes lives. Audre Lorde said: ‘When I dare to be powerful, to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.’  This is important and impactful work at a critical time; this is your call to action.” 

For more information, please email [email protected] or call (802) 876-7949 x102, or visit