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:
MBHP Statewide Initiative - Worcester
On January 11, We were 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
After our presentations in Milford on January 10, 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
We were brought back to Milford High School on January 10th to present to their Sophomore 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
On January 9 at Eliot in Malden, we held another Coaching Day! 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
On January 7, we were back at Stoneham High School to present to their Sophomore Health Classes. Here, we had our Peer Mentors share their Comeback Stories. After, we led a discussion about how you can identify if a friend is struggling and how to get them the supports needed.
NANIX Unveils Mural
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!
Peer Mentor Presentations to Malden High School
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 Mentor presentations at Arlington High School
On 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 other traumas during their high school careers. We got to meet students from Freshman to Seniors, thank you for attending "Overcoming Life's Challenges!"
Presentations at Medford High School
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!
Presentation at The Bromfield School
On December 4th, 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 Phillips Academy Staff
On December 3rd, 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!
Both seasoned peer mentors and new team members sat down to workshop their Comeback Stories on our November 16th 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 Mentor 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 Mentor Presentations to the Hamilton-Wenham 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 at Malden and Medford High 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
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 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.
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!
PM Coaching Day in Malden
September 6 - The NAN Project had a Coaching Day to help our Peer Mentors get ready for what will be a very busy fall. There was lots of 1-on-1 Comeback Story development, review of presentation skills and coaching on how to have a safe conversation around mental health.
Senior Peer Mentor Training Camp (days 5 & 6)
August 23rd marked the last day of our six week summer Senior Peer Mentor training!
We finished our Botvin LifeSkills Training with a lesson on relationship building. Thanks to Mike and Maria for not only introducing us to the language of collaboration, negotiation, and compromise, but for embodying these skills in the past six weeks.
Our Peer Mentors enjoyed 'Art with Alex' especially yesterday, taking some time to paint plant pots for succulents. These plants, just like our team, are incredibly resilient, and find ways to thrive and blossom even in the most challenging environments. Watering these plants will be a sweet reminder of both our time together and the importance of caring for oneself.
We owe many thanks to the Peter & Elizabeth Tower Foundation for funding this training. The assistance provided by The Tower Foundation has allowed our team to learn how to improve our support of those affected by mental health challenges.
To our newly graduated Senior Peer Mentors and to all who attended training, congratulations! We know you will put the lessons learned in training to great use in the schools this fall.
Senior Peer Mentor Training Camp (days 3 & 4)
August 2 & 9 - Wow is this summer flying by! We are now two thirds of the way through our training, having just completed the 3 day Mental Health First Aid certification and 4 out of 6 of the Botvin Lifeskills Transitions course. For our final two days, we'll have Lifeskills in the morning followed by afternoons of art programming with an amazing art therapist from Raw Art Works. Awesome work everyone!
Presentations at Mass Mentors in New Bedford
July 25 - The NAN Project's Peer Mentors presented their Comeback Stories to 25 therapeutic mentors at the Mass Mentor office in New Bedford on Wednesday. These folks work with young adults from all walks off life, providing guidance and support. We hope to be back to present at their programs and engage the youth in discussions about alternative supports they can turn to when struggling.
Senior Peer Mentor Training Camp (days 1 & 2)
July 19 & 26 - On our first day of a 6 week Senior Peer Mentor summer program at Eliot in Malden, we covered Botvin LifeSkills Training (which will occupy the morning session of each of the 6 days of training) and followed it with the LivingWorks Education's safeTALK suicide prevention training in the afternoon. This helped reinforce the QPR training all of our Peer Mentors have been through.
On Thursday, July 26 we again started off with Botvin LifeSkills Training in the morning, followed by Mental Health First Aid USA (MHFA) in the afternoon. The Peer Mentors life skills covered so far include, how to cope with transitions, what is effective communication, and how to set realistic goals. The MHFA was the first of 3 parts, and covered what mental health concerns look like and how to respond and get someone help.
The trainers are doing a great job keeping everyone up and moving; a big thank you is in order to Tracy, Mike, Maria, Cathy, Sarah and Donna. This also would not be possible without the support of the The Peter and Elizabeth C. Tower Foundation and Eliot.
Peer Mentor Appreciation DAY!
July 10 - The Our Peer Mentor Appreciation Day was a resounding success! We enjoyed screening our very own 13 Reasons Why We Need To Talk About Suicide, played some NAN Jeopardy, chowed down on Chinese food, and battled at Mario Kart 64. Thank you to all of our amazing Peer Mentors for the hard work you do!😊
New Recruits! GIFT graduation in Arlington
June 21 - The NAN Project was out scouting new potential Peer Mentors at the GIFT (Gathering Inspiring Future Talent) training graduation. This DMH funded program run by Kim Bisset provides young adults with the tools to craft their Comeback Stories and become peer mentors. The majority of The NAN Project's Peer Mentors go through this program before taking our tailored training. We hope to recruit some of these amazing young people with powerful stories to come work for us!
Moving ahead at Framingham High School
June 15 - Today we met with a group of faculty from Framingham High School, including the principal, members of the Bridge re-entry & Phoenix programs and others who provide supports for the students. This was our initial foray into FHS, and the attendees were all super impressed with the presentations by Mike A, Onix and Sarah (her first time!!!). We can't wait to come back in the fall to bring The NAN Project's work to the student body.
Introductions at Milford High School
June 13 - The Prinicpal of Milford High School invited us to sit down with a few of their Staff in their Health Program to intrduce ourselves. We then had our Peer Cordinators share their Comeback Stories, and led a conversation about how we can work with their students once School is back in session. Thank you To all at Milford high School, for being so supportive of our mission.
Video Screening for Boston DMH
June 12 - We were invited to screen our video project 13 Reasons Why We Need To Talk About Suicide for the staff at Boston DMH. All who attened spoke of how this would be a great tool to combat the Stigma surrounding Mental Health, and were eager to utilize this in their practices. Thank you to everyone at The Department of Mental Health for making this a possibility
Peer Leadership Team Launch in Lawrence
June 12 - Today we sat down with a group of underclassmen at Phoenix Academy in Lawrence to help them launch their Peer Leadership Team. We came up with a name Nanix (Nan + Phoenix) and a mission: 1) To open up the conversation around mental health at their school; and, 2) Help their Peers access supports the ened for their mental health. Lots of great input from the students and we are excited to have a kick off event once school is back in September!
Malden What's Next Panel
June 9 - We were in Malden, Massachusetts where our two Peer Coordinators, Mike and Lizzie, were on a panel to discuss mental health and the available supports at the Malden Teen Enrichment Center. They were joined by 2 students, a detective, and a lobbyist, with the mayor, chief of police and Representative Steven Ultrino in attendance. A great day with many positive connections made!
Stoneham High School, we're back!
June 5 - The NAN Project's Peer Mentors had outstanding, if long, day presenting to 4 of Stoneham High School sophomore health classes on Tuesday. These students were involved and had lots of thoughtful input to our discussions around depression, anxiety and how to access supports! We're always glad to be back at one of our most active schools and help promote mental health awareness. This is also where we filmed one of our most popular vignettes from 13 Reasons Why We Need to Talk about Suicide. Check out the Anxiety vignette HERE.
Phoenix Academy presentations
June 4 - The NAN Project's Peer Mentors presented at Phoenix Academy in Lawrence, Massachusetts. We had a great response from the students in attendance and are now working to establish a Peer Leadership Team at this charter school. Thank you to Erin for organizing this event and to our amazing Peer Mentors Elli, Rob, Mike A, Lizzie and Jocelyn for presenting and leading the discussion afterwards!!!
Here is some feedback from the school Social Worker "Thank you again for yesterday and please send our appreciation to your staff! They spoke beautifully and showed some serious courage in sharing their comeback stories. I overheard several students telling their teachers about the mental health awareness group and some of the ideas we discussed, definitely generated some buzz!"
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