Being There Mental Health Education Program

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Since its inception, Being There has been a program designed to educate high school and college students about the realities of mental illness and the stigma that surrounds it.  Being There's format has always been in motion.  Bringing to students the most up to date information about mental illnesses and the resources to find help.  Being There speakers share their personal stories of living with mental illness and open their lives to questions from students.  Over the years, we have found this to be the most poignant point of the presentation.  Hearing from peers creates a safe environment for students to ask their questions and share their own stories.  We have connected many students to help that they never knew existed.  We have given them hope  to seek out and share their own stories with others in an effort to break down the walls of stigma.  Over the years, we have heard from students share their own struggles with trauma, depression, anxiety, family issues, school issues, drug use, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, bullying, and the difficulty of being a young adult in our society.   Our goal in every presentation is to make students feel connected.  To give them the resources and information they need to reach out for help.  We introduce them  to their school counselors, we provide them with hotline numbers, and we offer them opportunities on how to volunteer so that they in turn can offer their support to someone who is going through something.  The program would not be what it is without the courage of the Being There speakers who are Azule Haywood, Alicia Mora, and Kevin Vergara.  Day in and day out, these young people share the innermost truths about themselves and leave their lives open like books.  They create a safe environment for students to share and ask questions and they keep their words honest and from the heart.  They connect with students on a level that is unique and that truly is a thing of beauty.  At a time when most young people are struggling with so many things, Being There creates a place of calm and safety.  It's one of the many ways The MHASWNJ stays connected to its community.  To request a Being There presentation at your location, contact Kelli Cochran-West at kcochran-west@mhaswnj.org.    

Kelli Cochran-West