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Impact Story

NAMI SC: Ending the Silence

Speaking Up Helps Others Follow Suit

About the Organization

NAMI SC is the South Carolina state chapter for the National Alliance on Mental Illness. They work within South Carolina to raise awareness about and destigmatize mental health, and to provide support and education to those in need. 

About the Grant

NAMI SC saw an opportunity to use a nationwide best practice program, Ending the Silence (ETS), to educate teens, school staff, and caregivers about mental health. ETS training focuses on suicide awareness, signs and symptoms of behavioral health conditions, and easing the stigma about mental health by showing how it's functionally no different from your physical health. The training further connects teens with behavioral health resources and services.

The connection to resources and the destigmatization of mental health are both incredibly important in early intervention. It makes it easier for students to seek help instead of suffering, and for them to support and care for themselves and one another if a crisis arises. This kind of early intervention is key to successful treatment and recovery and, ultimately, the prevention of suicide.

Why It Was Funded

Suicide is the second leading cause of death for people ages 10 to 24 in South Carolina, yet only 64% of schools in the state have access to mental health clinicians. While the ultimate goal is to train more providers and have them available to schools, students need a resource now.

Because Ending the Silence is a nationwide program, it has been vetted and proven worthy of implementation in South Carolina. In fact, research shows that the ETS student program is effective in changing high school student’s knowledge and attitudes toward mental health conditions and, critically, toward seeking help. NAMI SC estimated that 23,000 South Carolinians had received the training as of 2019 and that the grant would reach an additional 150,000 teens and adults.

In South Carolina, 20% of children will experience a diagnosable behavioral health condition

Project Results

Trainings were led by two-person teams, with one of the trainers being a young adult living in recovery with a behavioral health condition. Thanks to this grant, NAMI has been able to provide ETS trainings to students and adults in all of South Carolina’s 46 counties.

Following trainings, surveys showed a decrease in stigma, an increase in mental health literacy, and an increase in willingness to seek help for themselves if necessary – as well as a willingness to encourage friends to seek help. 

More directly, these trainings caused more than 800 students to approach a team member to discuss either their own mental health or that of a friend or family member. More than 250 of these students were found to be in crisis and in need of immediate assistance.

Ongoing Support

Because of the efficacy and importance of the program, Ending the Silence was awarded a second grant in 2022 to continue the work they started in 2019. Furthermore, by teaching teens and adults how to recognize mental health issues and seek help, NAMI SC is able to continue making a difference well past the point of training.