News Article Details

Community invited to NAMI's mental health awareness presentation

Newton Daily News - 9/5/2019

Sep. 5--By listening to the first-hand experiences of those recovering from mental health issues, Bill Ehler hopes area youth may feel more comfortable talking about the topic or encourage others to become more accepting of mental health and reject the associated stigmas.

As a board member of National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) of Central Iowa, Ehler said the organization's Ending the Silence community presentation -- beginning at 6:30 p.m.Sept. 10 at the Newton Public Library -- aligns with NAMI's initiatives to support, educate and advocate for mental health.

The Ending the Silence program is facilitated by two leaders; one shares an informational presentation while a young adult with a mental health illness shares their journey of recovery, according to The program is free of cost to schools and communities.

Elaboration of this often-misunderstood topic and growing the movement to end stigma are the focal points of NAMI's Ending the Silence program. Presenters detail the warning signs of mental health conditions and what steps a person should take if he or she or a loved one "are showing symptoms of a mental health condition."

Two students from Iowa State University, Leah Beman and Hannah Moldovan, will lead the presentation alongside Angela Tharp, executive director for NAMI of Central Iowa, to hopefully embolden those who are afraid to speak up due to peer or societal pressures or fear of being shamed. Ehler said the speakers' messages are powerful and effective, and he is certain they will connect with young people.

"I think these presentations give you a good idea of what they're going through (and let you know) you're not the only one that's going through this," Ehler said, noting that mental health illnesses could range from bipolar disorder to schizophrenia to depression, among others. "We're trying to get all the school districts in Jasper County to offer an (Ending the Silence) event."

Although the subject matter may be more appropriate for teens and adults, Ending the Silence is open to the public and is presented as a preview of sorts for potential school events or youth programs in the area. Ehler said the NAMI-facilitated program can be organized to a general assembly format or in a smaller classroom setting.

Why target youth? According to the American Psychiatric Association, half of all chronic mental health illness begins by age 14.

Data collected by NAMI from the National Institute of Mental Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention determined 13 percent of children ages 8-15 experience a mental health condition; 50 percent of the same age group who experience a mental health condition don't receive treatment.

Plus, Ehler believes by introducing young people to mental health challenges earlier in life there is a better chance they develop an understanding or feel unashamed to talk about it or seek help.

"They're afraid to talk to somebody," Ehler said. "There's a general feeling that there are students out there suffering from depression or other mental illnesses that are not getting helped. It's been pretty well documented that if you get them help when they're still younger it can reduce those numbers quite drastically."

Contact Christopher Braunschweig at 641-792-3121 ext. 6560 or


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