AIR’s presentation in my high school building received overwhelming support from both faculty and students. Its message regarding erasing mental illness stigma and letting students know it’s okay to ask for help seemed to break down the barriers as several students came up after each presentation to ask for more information. Faculty members, including teachers, guidance counselors and administrators, have requested AIR to come back and present again. I look forward to continuing my relationship with AIR and helping our students get the support they need to achieve overall health and wellness.

Julie SchickDirector of Athletics, Health & Physical Education & Nurses at Perth Amboy Public Schools

The Attitudes in Reverse® Coming Up for AIR™ program highlighted some myths and facts about mental illness. The AIR presentation asked students to choose celebrities they felt had struggled with mental illness; the presentation then highlighted the successful paths and varied history of many famous people. Tricia Baker also told the students about the struggles they had witnessed within their own family; she shared their personal struggles with her son’s suicide, as well as others’ reactions to his passing away. This personal revelation touched a chord in many of the students and staff at Schor. Students appeared interested in the program and it brought to light concerns that encouraged the students to reach out to the counseling department.

AIR’s presentation creates a comprehensive picture of mental health. AIR volunteers work to make sure that students are aware that many people struggle with mental illness and that there are many people to whom the students can reach out to ask for help. I think that this is a great presentation for 7th and 8th graders.

Kaitlin G. Gonzales, Psy.MBehaviorist/School Psychologist Theodore Schor Middle School

Finding ‘just the right dog’ for my 11-year-old son Matthew through the AIR Dogs: Paws for Minds program has made a significant positive impact for a boy challenged by the daily struggles of living with an Autism Spectrum Disorder, depression and anxiety.

Matthew seemingly steps outside of his social awkwardness with his dog Roxie by his side, speaking freely about Roxie’s mixed breed, combination French Bulldog and Beagle, Frengle. Matthew discusses how ‘dogs are good for our mental health’. Typically preferring to spend time with canines over other kids, Matthew happily attends AIR awareness events, seizing the opportunity to showcase Roxie and hang with other dog lovers.

Lauren CampbellNJ Certified School Counselor; MA Counseling Services

I currently live in Macon, Georgia and teach psychology courses at a technical college. I hope to utilize my own passion for mental health advocacy by bringing the AIR program to Georgia. Each semester I tell my students about AIR, and some have shared with me their own personal stories in relation to AIR’s message. When students began to open up I felt first hand power of AIR’s message. My hope is that one day the AIR program will not only be in every state across the US, but also help people worldwide to understand the complications and pain of suicide and mental illness.

Karen JolleyMasters in Family Studies, Mercer University Psychology; Professor, Central Georgia Technical College

AIR saves lives by educating today’s youth on the importance of mental health and the role of intervention and treatment. It creates a vehicle for people to get involved with a cause that has been stigmatized for centuries. It is time to release the stigma and be grateful that we can help with healing, education, and compassion.

Patti Ann Ridgway, CHHC, AADPCertified Holistic Health Counselor

AIR’s volunteers have a passion to deal with our last unspoken disease, mental illness. I have witnessed first hand the positive influence granted young students when they participate in AIR events. Seeing teens help their peers face anxiety, depression, and other vulnerabilities bodes well for all our futures. Those young, and not so young, are determined to make a difference. All of this I have observed first hand at high school gatherings, annual walks and solemn observances. So many supporters are now turning grief into action.

Silas BakerFormer Member, Brevard County School Board