We seek to improve the conversation around mental health concerns and ultimately reduce suicidal thoughts among young people by making awareness of the same through our events.
The NAN Project emphasizes the messages of HOPE and HELP by:
- Acknowledging that mental illness is a very serious problem among young people;
- Accepting mental health challenges as illnesses of the brain that can be treated;
- Providing access to treatment for all families and their children.
To learn more about what we've been up to, or where we're going, check out below:
Signs of Suicide Filming
June 7, June 26- We had the great pleasure of collaborating with MindWise to create a new, updated video for their Signs-of Suicide school-based program. For the video, a couple of our Peer Mentors talked about their journey to recovery and how they stayed strong. This curriculum will be shown in thousands of schools across the country and will expose millions of students to the conversation around mental health. We are super excited to see the final product before it premieres within the schools!
Arlington Peer Mentor Training
June 13, June 18, June 20, June 25- The NAN Project team hosted the 16th Peer Mentor Training at the Young Adult Vocational Program(YAVP) in Arlington, Massachusetts! This was an exceptionally motivated crew, as they were very eager in learning more about mental health, and how to save lives by using their lived experience to teach students. We graduated 8 Peer Mentors, who we look forward to working with when schools start back up in the fall.
Peer Mentor Appreciation Day
June 15- Lastly, we hosted another Peer Mentor Appreciation Day this summer!
We wanted to have a day dedicated to the peer mentors to come and destress from the world, but also have some fun with The NAN Project. We had lots of fun soaking up the sun, playing lawn games, doing yoga, making tie dye, and having a nice BBQ. Thank you to all the peer mentors who attended!
Greater Lowell Technical High School Presentations
June 5, June 6- Lately we have been doing a lot of work in Lowell, Massachusetts. We recently visited Greater Lowell Technical High School, and spend two days doing our presentations with sophomore health classes. A lot of those students came up to the Peer Mentors afterwards, wanting to know more about their personal stories, or more about The NAN Project. It was a successful two days!
Lowell Peer Mentor Training
June 3, June 7, June 10, June 14- We finished our 15th Peer Mentor Training this June, at the Northeast Independent Living Program (NILP) in Lowell! We are excited to have trained nine new Peer Mentors, who we hope will join us in the schools this fall. This group was a lot of fun to work with, and we enjoyed getting to know them as we worked on crafting their comeback stories! We’re excited to bring these Peer Mentors to schools, after school programs, and future trainings as we continue our involvement with the Lowell and Lawrence communities.
QPR (Question, Persuade, Refer) Trainer Certification
June 6- Peer Coordinator Elli Peltola and Senior Peer Mentor Sarah Dickie sent it all the way over to Northampton, Massachusetts to earn certification in teaching QPR for suicide prevention. We now have two more trainers prepared to teach this method to faculty and students in schools. Sarah and Elli learned a lot of valuable information for suicide prevention, and did a great job representing The NAN Project!
Salem Youth At Risk Conference
May 31- The NAN Project returned to Salem State for the 2019 Youth at Risk Conference! Attendees who stopped by our table snagged some of our ever popular
mental health postcards, and gave us a chance to introduce ourselves to their schools, programs, and community organizations on the North Shore! This year we were able to host our own workshop, and Peer Mentors Elli, Greta, Onix and Lizzie presented their comeback stories and answered some very thoughtful audience questions.
Newburyport Parent Night
May 29- Debbie Helms, from The Samaritans joined one of our Peer Coordinators, Elli Peltola at a parent night for the Newburyport District. They were having a discussion on how to support a child if they’re struggling with a mental health disorder. Elli did a typical presentation for us, and supported Debbie while she ran a workshop on suicide prevention. The parents were very grateful to hear a young person’s experience with mental health and seeing that is does get better with supports in place
Stoneham High School Presentations
May 29- We finished our presentations to Stoneham High School’s sophomore Health classes, complete with a few Juniors who joined us as their year winds down. Some of our new Peer Mentors from this spring’s training presented their stories and fielded some insightful questions from students. Thanks, Stoneham High, for another great year!
PM Presentations at Andover High School
May 21, 22- Towards the end of May, our presentations to Andover High School finished off the year strong. We’ve been presenting to health classes in Andover High School for a little over three years now, and we always have a really positive experience working with them. We have a peer leadership team within the school called Star, and we trained those students in QPR this year!
PM Presentations in Kingston
May 15 - Our Peer Mentors presented their comeback stories for a community event hosted by The Vineyard Church in Kingston, Mass! As we partner with more schools and community organizations on the South Shore, we're reminder just how many of us have been affected by suicide and mental health challenges. Much of the audience last Wednesday had experienced a recent loss - and we commend them for their dedication to an issue so close to home. We will be returning soon to train this same group in QPR, to provide more discussion and an explanation of concrete skills for speaking to someone in crisis.
Comeback Stories at Lowell High School
May 6, 8, 10 - The NAN Project returned to Lowell High School to present to second semester sophomore health students! A number of our recently trained Peer Mentors read their stories for the first time during our Lowell Presentations, impressing our team and students alike. Our Q&A sessions at Lowell High always last until the bell rings - thanks to a number of health teachers who have made mental health a priority in their classrooms! We also traveled to the Lowell Boys and Girls Club, to present to a younger group of students that meet after school.
Presenting at Peace by Peace in Fall River
May 2 - The NAN Project Peer Mentors presented their Comeback Stories as part of the United Neighbors for Fall River’s annual Peace by Piece Summit. This summit was open to high school students from multiple Fall River high schools, with the goal engaging their communities in discussions about community violence, bullying, and substance abuse. Too often, conversations about these topics ignore mental health, so we were thrilled to be a part of this summit. Students attending Peace by Piece participated in workshops and activities, and listened to our Peer Mentors as this years speakers. These Fall River students stepped up to ask us some wonderful questions about our experiences and their own.
Tabling at DPH Suicide Prevention Conference in Framingham
May 1-2 - The NAN Project Team attended the Massachusetts Department of Public Health's Annual Suicide Prevention Conference, alongside suicide prevention experts from across the state! Our team attended workshops on suicide prevention through music and social justice, reconnected with our colleagues throughout the state, and introduced our mission to everyone who stopped by our table! Thanks to all of the attendees who took the time learn about The NAN Project!
To see the video series we debuted at our own workshop at last year's conference, check out 13 Reasons Why We Need to Talk about Suicide
Training Peer Mentors in Malden
April 5-12 - Thanks to a small, but productive training at the Eliot offices in Malden, we have added new Peer Mentors to our team!We're excited to see these new Peer Mentors in action in the coming weeks.
We will be holding four more trainings in the coming months, in Lowell, Arlington, Salem, and Lawrence! To learn more about our trainings or send in an application to work with us, check out Become a Peer Mentor.
Tabling at Revere High School Self Care Fair
March 28 - Students and faculty at Revere High held their annual Self-Care Fair, a fun and engaging way to promote self care among students! The Revere High School gym was packed with resources and activities for students, including healthy snacks, self-care projects, and a petting zoo. Our Peer Mentors gave students a chance to test their mental health knowledge with a Jeopardy style game that featured common myths and stigma-reducing facts about anxiety, depression and suicidality. Students knew so much already and were eager to educate their friends - thanks to everyone who played!
Filming with Malden Access TV
March 15 - The NAN Project made their television debut, filming an episode of our show, The Promise of Hope. With the support of Malden Access TV, four of our peer mentors will appear on public access television, answering questions about their mental health and about The NAN Project in a talk-show format! After a few takes and the expert advice of the MATV crew, we were able to learn the ropes and put together a program that we can't wait for you to see!
13th Peer Mentor Training in Lawrence
March 14 - 21 - The NAN Project held our 13th Peer Mentor Training at YouForward in Lawrence! We are so excited to add some new faces to our team as beginning Peer Mentors. As we continue to work in Lawrence and Lowell, these new Peer Mentors will start by shadowing a few presentations until they are ready to share their own stories!
To learn more about our Peer Mentors and how they are trained, check out Our Peer Mentors page!
To see the dates of our upcoming trainings, or submit an application to work with us, check out Become a Peer Mentor!
PM Presentations and QPR in Revere
March 5, 7 - Our Peer Mentors visited two after school groups at Revere High School; The Youth Health Leadership Commitee and The Power of Know. Both of these groups focus on projects that support the health and mental health of their peers and the greater Revere community, including a health fair that we’re excited to attend later in this semester! Our Peer Mentors shared their stories, and later returned to the YHLC to train students in QPR Suicide Prevention.
Tabling for TeenEmpowerment in Somerville
February 28, March 1 - The NAN Project Peer Mentors tabled at two community events, organized by young adults at TeenEmpowerment in Somerville. Thursday’s ‘Skills for Adulthood’ Fair featured a self-care strategies, resources and information tables, as well as inspiring public speakers -- all organized and brought to the Somerville Public Library by high schoolers in the Library Youth Leaders group! TeenEmpowerment’s Mental Wellness Ambassadors hosted Friday’s ‘Faces of Mental Health’ event, which centered on an expressive art activity that asked participants to draw their mental health. At our table, young adults played Mental Health Jeopardy and got to know more about The Nan Project! Afterwards, we held a short discussion on the signs that a friend might be struggling, and strategies for supporting a peer who needs mental health resources. Thank you, TeenEmpowerment, for hosting these wonderful opportunities for their young adults!
Peer Mentor Coaching Day in Arlington
February 19 - For the Peer Mentors who made it to the Young Adult Vocational Program through the snow and slush, our February Coaching Day was a chance to work on their Comeback Stories, learn about other paid peer roles in mental health, and reflect on their self care! We'd like to thank Erin from Eliot’s Therapeutic Mentoring Program in Jamaica Plain for sitting with us and taking the time to explain and answer questions about this role and how it differs from the part time work our Peer Mentors do. Our clinical support, Donna Kausek, paid us a visit in the afternoon, and lead a discussion on the importance of self care for our Peer Mentors, who regularly share some of their most vulnerable moments in the classroom. Our team came up with some creative strategies and new opportunities to support each other. Another great coaching day!
Presentations to Eighth Grade at Bromfield School in Harvard
February 13 - As we continue to develop a model of The NAN Project specifically for middle schools and their younger students, we’re starting out in a few schools by pairing out presentations with more interactive mental health activities. At the Bromfield School, our Peer Mentors shared their Comeback Stories and lead a brainstorming session that asked students: What coping skills do you already have? What coping skills would you like to learn? Who are the supports in your life if you or a friend is struggling? These eighth graders showed more enthusiasm and interest in mental health than we see in some adults, making our class period with them fly by! We look forward to working more with the Bromfield School in the future, and will be back soon to meet with a few interested high school students!
Acton-Boxborough Health Class hosts Mentor Presentations
February 11 - Though a few of our presentations were rescheduled due to some nasty winter weather, we had a great start at Acton-Boxborough High School! The NAN Project Peer Mentors presented their Comeback Stories to four freshman health classes. We were lucky to be joined by Acton Boxborough student and Senior Peer Mentor Betty Markman, who herself joined The NAN Project after connecting with one of our presentations in 2017. Thanks Betty for spending your free period working with us! We’ll be back soon to finish our presentations and bring our message to more students!
Mentor Presentations at Framingham High
February 7 - It is always a special presentation when our Peer Mentors return to their own communities as speakers. Students can relate on an even deeper level to those Peer Mentors who, not to long ago, were sitting n the same classrooms. Our presentations to Framingham High School’s Phoenix Program was a return for our Senior Peer Mentor and alumna Onix (read his Peer Mentor Spotlight here!) Phoenix students and faculty were a receptive audience to our team’s stories.
Presentations at Phillips Academy in Andover
January 31 - The Active Minds Club at Phillips Academy hosted our Peer Mentors for an introduction to The NAN Project and a few Comeback Stories, pizza included! Our Q&A soon turned in to a student led discussion on the difficulties of balancing mental health and academics, as well as the stigma that often surrounds asking for help. With QPR trainings for staff and faculty, and upcoming presentations to more students, we look forward to supporting Phillips students in their goals to reduce stigma.
QPR Training in Stoneham and Lawrence
January 28, 29 - We spent this week training high school students from both Stoneham High School and Phoenix Academy Lawrence in the QPR (Question, Persuade, Refer) Suicide Prevention. This two hour training is a useful tool for these young adults, providing them with both education in the signs and symptoms of a person who is struggling, and empowering them to access the mental health resources in their communities. While we offer QPR to staff and faculty, these students can play a special role in supporting their friends and peers by connecting them to trusted adults.
Tabling at Tufts for Stigma Unstuck
January 24 - The NAN Project spent an evening at Tufts for Stigma Unstuck, the opening reception event for their exhibition of artist Lynda Cutrell's The Many Faces of Our Mental Health. Cutrell's installation features a series of paintings, two sculptures, and 99 photographs of subjects who may experience bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, or no symptoms at all. The unlabeled photographs show that while we may hear a single story or expect a single picture of these disorders, there is so much more diversity and joy in the lives of people with mental health diagnoses. We thank everyone who dropped by our table to say, "Hi!" and learn more about The NAN Project.
Presentations to Lowell High School
January 14-18 - In under a week, The NAN Project’s presentations reached every sophomore health class at Lowell High School. We were grateful for this opportunity to meet so many students, and glad to create a time for them to talk about mental health, especially after the suicide death of their classmate. Though it can be difficult to have these conversations after a suicide, we were welcomed into the school community by staff and students. We hope to return to Lowell soon and continue to create a school culture that supports any student who is struggling.
MBHP Statewide Initiative - Worcester
January 11 - The NAN Project was recently invited to Worcester Polytechnic Institute to attend the quarterly Mass Behavioral Health Partnership Statewide Initiative, an event where Emergency Service Providers (ESPs) from all over the Commonwealth meet to discuss important issues they face in their line of work. We were asked to introduce The NAN Project, since the populations we work with often overlaps with those seen by the ESPs when they respond to crisis in schools. We at The NAN Project are on the prevention end, while ESPs are on the intervention end. We were greeted with enthusiasm and curiosity of how one could better talk to someone who is struggling.
Americorps QPR Training in Boston
January 10 - After our presentations in Milford, we ventured to the Codman Great Hall in Boston to meet with local Americorps members. Here, we were asked to train them all in the QPR model of Suicide Prevention. We discussed the importance of asking the question, “Are you thinking of suicide?” We then went through the steps of how to talk to a person in crisis and where to seek help.
Presentations at Milford High School
January 10th - We brought our Peer Mentors back to Milford High School to present to their Sophomore Health Class. Here, we gave an introduction as to what The NAN Project is, and had our Peer Mentors share their stories of lived experiences through mental health challenges. We then went on to lead a discussion about the supports in their communities.
Coaching Day at Eliot CHS - Malden
January 9 - The NAN Project held another successful Coaching Day at the Eliot offices in Malden! Here, we invited our Peer Mentors and a few potential new Peer Mentors to go over some presentation Do's and Don'ts. We then did some refinement on Comeback Stories, and participated in a Guided Meditation exercise.
Stoneham High School Presentations
January 7 - The NAN Project returned again to Stoneham High School for another round of presentations to their health classes. Our team of Peer Mentors shared their comeback stories and lead a question and answer session from Stoneham students. As always, we discussed signs that a friend or classmate might be struggling with a mental health challenge, and how to refer a friend to the trusted adults in their lives. Health curriculum has come a long way! We'll be back next month to train Stoneham peer leadership in QPR Suicide Prevention - see you soon!
Lawrence NANIX Unveils Mural
December 18 - Our Peer Leadership Team at Phoenix Academy - also known as NANIX - completed work on their mural project and unveiled it in a powerful moment for both staff and students. NANIX students dedicated hours each week to work with art therapist Fernanda from LA House to create a piece that reflected the strengths and resilience of their community in the aftermath of the Colombia Gas Explosions and to honor their classmate, Leo, who died during that disaster. This amazing group of young people took ownership of their work and learned to heal through art. It was such a pleasure to work with this inspired collection of students! To learn more read our blog post about the unveiling here.
Peer Presentations to Malden High School
December 17- Our presentation to Malden High school health classes on December 17th were our final presentations of 2018! As with so many of our discussions this year, Malden High students were eager to talk to our Peer Mentors; both about mental health and how they could help a friend who was struggling.
Peer presentations at Arlington High School
December 12 - As part of Arlington High School's Wellness Day, The NAN Project hosted a Mental Health Awareness Workshop. In this workshop, several of The NAN Project's Peer Mentors presented their stories of overcoming mental health challenges and trauma during their high school years. To the Freshman through Seniors who stopped by our workshop, thank you for attending "Overcoming Life's Challenges!"
Presentations at Medford High School
December 3-7 - Over the course of three school days, The NAN Project presented to 15 sophomore and freshman health classes! We had some great discussions about mental health and how to support a friend, as well as lots of questions about visiting therapy dog, Lilly!
Presenting in Harvard at The Bromfield School
December 4 - The NAN Project traveled to Harvard, Mass to present to a younger audience, the eighth grade class of The Bromfield School! We had so many questions from the classes that we'll be returning soon to continue the discussion!
Presentations to Andover's Phillips Academy Staff
December 3 - The staff and faculty of Phillips Academy invited a team of our young people to present their comeback stories. We thank the faculty for their attention, time, and insightful questions, and are excited to begin our work with Phillips students in the coming months!
Coaching Day at Eliot CHS in Malden
November 16 - Both seasoned peer mentors and new team members sat down to workshop their Comeback Stories on our Coaching Day. Our mission for the day; identify the message you want to spread by sharing your story, and, as a team, identify the ways your story can reflect that message. By the end of the day, we had new drafts, stronger stories, and a fresh perspective on the work we do. Special thanks to our guests from The Cummings Foundation for coming to meet us and participating in our discussion!
QPR for Stoneham Youth Coalition
On November 15, Peer Coordinators Lizzie and Elli trained the Stoneham Youth Coalition in QPR Suicide Prevention. In this two hour training, students covered risk and protective factors for suicide, signs that someone may be struggling, and most importantly, how to refer a person in crisis to the professional help that they need. Thank you to the coalition leaders for hosting this training, and to Eliot clinician Donna Kausek for her support of our trainers!
Peer Presentations at Andover High School
The NAN Project happily returned to one of the first schools to host our peer mentor presentations, Andover High School. On November 13th and 14th, our team presented to eight health classes, and discussed with each how to access mental health supports in their school and community. We'll be back soon to work with the STAR peer leadership team!
Peer Presentations to Hamilton-Wenham's Senior Class!
November 7&8- The NAN Project was invited back to Nan's Alma Mater, Hamilton-Wenham Regional High School to lead a discussion with their new class of Seniors in their respective Health classes. Here, we had our Peer Mentors share their stories of resilience throughout their life struggles. We then held a Q&A and a discussion of the anxieties that surround graduating and moving away to college. This engaging group of young adults were eager to talk about some of the topics they are worried about for when they go off to college, and how important it will be to create a network of supports when they leave home. Thank you to all of the HWRHS staff for making these past two days so great!
Professional Development in Malden, Medford Schools!
November 6th - The NAN Project was invited to both Malden and Medford High Schools as part of their respective election day teacher in-service. Malden staff and faculty were a wonderful audience for our Peer Mentors and their stories - with lots of questions for our team about how to help best support their students! In Medford, we partnered with Debbie Helms, executive director for The Samaritans of Merrimack Valley, to pair our Comeback Stories with an introduction to suicide prevention. Peer Coordinators Mike and Lizzie shared their stories to the staff of Medford High School, and our team of peer mentors answered the faculty's thoughtful questions. In the presentation that followed, Helms debunked suicide myths, identified common risk factors and signs of suicide, and explained several ways to support a young person who is struggling.
Presentations to Freshman at Milford and Hamilton-Wenham High Schools!
October 22-25 - A team of our peer mentors presented to freshman health classes at Milford High School and Hamilton-Wenham Regional High School, reaching close to 200 students in only three days! Our presentations came at the end of these class’ mental health units -- resulting in incredibly thoughtful questions and dicussion from the students we met this week. We are excited to return to these schools for more presentations in the future, and build up peer leadership teams within these communities.
A Night for Nan
October 18 – Our annual fundraiser was a wonderful opportunity to connect with our supports over the work that we do. Our program included stories from two senior peer mentors, and special recognition of our Friend For Life, Senator Lovely. Thank you to all of the guests who came out to spend the night with us, as well as those who supported through sponsorship and donation.
12th Peer Mentor Training Graduation – at YouForward Lawrence
October 12- After four days of training at the YouForward Drop-In Center in Lawrence, three new peer mentors have joined our team! Congratulations to these young people for the hard work they have put in to their Comeback Stories.
Mural Planning at Lawrence's Phoenix Academy
Phoenix Academy’s Peer Leadership Team, NANIX, has been hard at work planning a mural, with the help of Fernanda from LA House. After reflecting on the fires that affected their community, and their own resiliency, students settled on a phoenix as the main subject of the mural. We hope the process will empower students to continue to rise from their challenges, and look forward to seeing the final piece!
Peer Leadership Teams in Lawrence & Stoneham!
October 4 - On Thursday, The NAN Project's Peer Mentors were hard at work, and play, with Peer Leadership Teams at Phoenix Academy in Lawrence to kick off the day and later at Stoneham High School. The students in Lawrence are in the planning stages of a mural to show the resilience of both the city and the student body, after the loss of one of their peers during the gas explosions in September. The Stoneham group is gearing up for the year and will be taking our suicide prevention training later this fall. Awesome work done by all!
11th Peer Mentor Graduation...1st in Holyoke!
Tuesday, October 2 - The NAN Project is super excited to have graduated yet another amazing group of young adults from our 4 day Peer Mentor training. This was our first training out in Western Mass, which presented some logistical challenges, but totally worth the extra effort. Congratulations and a big thank you to Servicenet for hosting us! We'll be getting these young people into a couple local schools like Westfield and Ludlow within the next couple of months.
Presenting to Eliot's Therapeutic Ments
September 27 - The NAN Project's Peer Mentors presented in front of Eliot's Therapeutic Mentoring program in Worcester to give them an idea of what our work looks like. We had some great questions and follow up with the TMs and their supervisors! Hopefully this is the start of a long-term collaboration.
Presentations to EVERY student at Ludlow High
September 20 - On Thursday, The NAN Project's Peer Mentors were busy with 4 presentations at Ludlow High School, one for each grade (900 students in total!!!!). There was tons of positive feedback from the students and faculty alike, with many asking how they can support family members or peers and letting us know how the stories resonated. A great first step, but we will be back as they school works to set up a Peer Leadership Team to carry on the conversation around mental health.
Arlington - Art with Alex to prepare for Night for NAN!
September 19 - We had a bit of fun on Wednesday getting ready for the Night For NAN creating centerpieces for the tables. It was a low key day of art, meditative breathing a lots of music at YAVP in Arlington. We can't wait to show these off on October 18! If you haven't bought your tickets yet, get them now, here.
Professional Development at Milford HS
September 18 - It was a full house on Tuesday when The NAN Project's Peer Mentors provided professional development to the ENTIRE staff at Milford high school, from Spanish teachers to guidance counselors, and everyone in between (over 100 people in total). A big shout out to Jade (pictured), who presented her Comeback Story for the first time! After the presentations, we had half an hour of discussion with the teachers about what works when supporting students, what doesn't, and what the next steps will be in the partnership between The NAN Project and Milford HS (hint: we'll be in the classrooms later this fall). Thank you to our presenters and the folks at Milford for helping us open up the conversation around mental health in the school.
Educating Legislators on Beacon Hill
September 13 - The NAN Project was on Beacon Hill at the Mass Statehouse providing a legislative briefing to a group of legislators and their aides as part of World Suicide Prevention Week. The event was sponsored by Senators Lovely & Friedman along with Representatives Day, Tucker and Garlick and included an introduction from DMH Deputy Commissioner Emily Sherwood and presentations by 2 of our Peer Mentors, Belle and Mike A. Great exposure for an important cause!
To view older events, visit our ARCHIVED EVENTS page.
If you need help and want to talk to someone, call:
Suicide Prevention Lifeline
For the Crisis Text Line, text "Listen" to 741-741
For the Samaritans, Call or Text (877)870-4673
For immediate crisis evaluation call the Emergency Services Program / Mobile Crisis Intervention at 1-877-382-1609 & enter your zip code; you will get the phone number of the closest ESP/MCI that serves you.
If you are in immediate danger, please call 911