Parents and Teachers as Allies

NAMI Parents & Teachers as Allies is an in-service mental health presentation for current and future school personnel. It familiarizes school personnel with the early warning signs of mental illness in children and adolescents. School teachers, counselors, nurses, administrators and support staff learn how to support students experiencing mental health challenges and how to effectively partner with families to connect these students to services early.

How does NAMI Parents & Teachers as Allies work?

This one to two-hour presentation can be integrated into a school in-service training.

  • It is delivered by a trained four-person team whose perspectives include: an education professional, a parent of a child who lives with mental illness, and an individual living with mental illness who experienced symptoms as a child or adolescent.
  • It includes presenter stories, educational slides, and discussion.
  • Its goal is to reduce the stigma of mental illness by providing accurate information about the symptoms of early onset mental illness, which promotes understanding and dispels myths.
  • It puts a human face on childhood and adolescent mental illness and provides hope that recovery is possible.

What makes NAMI Parents & Teachers as Allies unique?

  • The program is offered to schools at no cost.
  • It provides teachers and staff the opportunity to learn about mental illness directly from family members and individuals living with mental illness.
  • It provides school personnel with tools to effectively communicate with families.

How does NAMI Parents & Teachers as Allies benefit school personnel?

School personnel learn strategies to promote student success by:

  •  Helping staff identify needs and linking youth to services early
  •  Sharing techniques to effectively communicate with families about mental illness
  •  Suggesting classroom accommodations to create a supportive learning environment for students living with a mental illness

How does NAMI Parents & Teachers as Allies benefit students and their families?

  • By helping connect students exhibiting warning signs of mental illness to services early, it increases the likelihood that they will achieve recovery and may help avoid more serious mental illness
  • Providing effective classroom accommodations for students with mental illness may improve academic achievement
  • Strengthening the alliance between families and schools can help reduce daily struggles  faced by students with mental illness

Key messages of Parents & Teachers as Allies

  • Mental illness is a medical illness like any other physical illness.
  • Mental illness is not anyone’s fault or something to be ashamed of.
  • Anger, grief and denial are predictable and common responses when parents have a child or adolescent that is experiencing mental health issues.
  • There are specific, observable early warning signs of mental illness. You can help your students and their families by being aware of these signs and making families aware of resources where they can receive support and education.
  • There are many ways you can promote student success in your classroom through simple and easy-to-implement accommodations.
  • The earlier children and adolescents receive treatment, the better.
  • Recovery is possible. There is hope.

What teachers are saying about NAMI Parents and Teachers as Allies

  • “This program gave me a new understanding of the importance of my role in early recognition of kids with symptoms of mental illness and the urgency of early intervention on their behalf.” – Teacher
  • “This presentation should be given to all teachers on a campus-by-campus basis.  It would be very helpful to me as a special education teacher in gaining understanding from classroom teachers for my students and their families!” – Special Education Teacher
  • “It was very powerful to hear the personal stories of the parents and the young girl with a mental illness diagnosis.  This class should be required for all educators.” – Teacher
  • “I would love to see all teachers and administrators exposed to this workshop.  As a parent who has a child that struggled with mental illness, I can say it’s a hard enough road to travel without having to deal with people in the school system who don’t have a basic understanding.” – Special Education Teacher
  • “Excellent presentation for all educators and families.” – Teacher

Please contact Bob Nassauer  at or 734-476-7575 for more information or to schedule a presentation.