The NAN Project presents at the Massachusetts State House!
On September 13th, The NAN Project traveled to the State House to present as part of our observance of National Suicide Prevention Week. Our goal for this legislative briefing was to show our representatives the kind of impact that peer support and stigma-free conversations can have to help those who are struggling.
We were given the opportunity to speak because several of our legislators understand the importance of talking about mental health and that suicide is a public health crisis, especially among young people. As the number of lives lost annually to suicide grows, it is more urgent than ever that we foster collaboration between government, community health organizations, educators, non-profits, schools, advocates and all the other stakeholders involved in the field of mental health.
Both our founder Ellen Dalton, and Deputy Commissioner of Child, Youth and Family Services, Emily Sherwood spoke on the needs that brought us to the State House, and the lessons learned about suicide prevention from their years of work in the fields of mental and behavioral health. “We get the conversation going – in a supportive, non-judgemental way. We identify trusted adults within the school who can help and we leave students with a message of hope,” Ellen related when talking about The NAN Project’s model.
There are so many avenues to inspiring hope and connecting support to those who are struggling with suicidal thoughts. As illustrated by the powerful Comeback Stories of our Peer Coordinator Mike Amendolare and Peer Mentor Belle Cole, starting a conversation about suicide is one of our most important tools to reduce the isolation, stigmatization, and confusion that many young people who are struggling face.
We thank Senators Friedman and Lovely and State Representatives Denise Garlick , Paul Tucker, and Michael Day for their support and sponsorship of this briefing. As always, we owe a special thanks to Senator Joan B. Lovely for her compassionate call to action. We are also so appreciative of the audience at the state house, who shared their own stories and touched us with their understanding.
To learn more about the problems facing our young people, and how The NAN Project works to tackle the issue of mental health, check out What We Do!