Nov 8, 2018

Umatter Trainings Benefiting our Communities

The Fall always bring opportunities for additional outreach and trainings to schools, organizations, and communities that are looking to improve the health and well-being of their students and constituents.  We are providing a number of important mental health and suicide prevention trainings to a variety of groups in the next few weeks and months and we wanted to tell you about them.  They include:

Umatter for Schools - a national best practice program for suicide prevention developed by the Center for Health & Learning.  These trainings are created for middle and high school faculty and staff.  Participants will learn how to:

  • Identify and help youth who show signs of suicide;
  • Provide parent and staff awareness sessions;
  • Develop prevention/postvention policies and protocols;
  • Implement the Lifelines evidence-based curriculum for their students.

There are currently 23 participants registered for this upcoming training representing 11 different schools throughout Vermont. 

Umatter Training of Trainers – We believe in the importance of providing skilled trainers out in the communities they serve.  Our Training of Trainers training is for community members, health care professionals, and school staff who want to raise awareness about suicide prevention in their own communities and organizations.  After taking this training, participants will be prepared to implement a 1.5 hour Umatter Suicide Prevention Workshop and will gain the skills, knowledge, confidence and materials to help others.  We currently have 22 individuals registered for this upcoming training. 

Umatter for Youth and Young Adults – Our Umatter for Youth and Young Adults (YYA) Program is a youth leadership and engagement initiative that includes interactive training with peers statewide to develop knowledge and skills for promoting their own mental health and the mental health of their peers.  During this 5-month engagement, middle and high school students will also design and implement a Mental Health Wellness Promotion Community Action Project in their school or community.  Umatter YYA 2019 will kick off in January and culminate in May.  We hope to have 10-12 school groups participating again.

As you can see, our trainings touch a wide variety of individuals, schools, and other organizations.  Your past support has allowed us to widen our reach and create health promoting communities.  Thank you!  If you would like to continue to support these efforts, we invite you to use the Donation link below – and please consider a recurring donation. 

If you know of a school or community that could benefit from our Umatter trainings, please contact us at  For more information about our Umatter programs, visit our website HERE:


Oct 16, 2018

Our Umatter Work In Action

Many parents and caregivers wonder whether they should talk about suicide with their teenagers—and if so, what they should even say. Kerri Nickerson from SAMHSA’s Suicide Prevention Resource Center (SPRC) says that talking about suicide and mental health can actually help promote help-seeking and resilience among teenagers.

There are lots of benefits in engaging in these conversations. One benefit is that they build connectedness, which is a known protective factor against suicide. Connectedness refers to the number of meaningful relationships a teen has with caring adults, caregivers, or peers—people in their life who would take conversations about suicide and mental health seriously. In 2011, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention identified connectedness as its strategic direction for addressing suicide.

Because suicide is complex, no one strategy will prevent all suicides. Instead, it’s important for communities, schools, health professionals, parents, and other loved ones of youth at risk for suicide to work together.

Schools are in a unique position to promote help-seeking and positive mental health of their students. One way some schools, and those working with schools, have done this is to use messaging that focuses on promoting hope and help-seeking. Stories about teenagers who were struggling and reached out for help successfully or a particular teenager who helped a friend in need can be really powerful. They can also counter the narrative that teenagers can’t do anything about suicide. Many teenagers encounter struggles in their lives—but stories of hope and resilience show that help is available and recovery is possible.

That is why programs such as Umatter for Schools and Umatter for Youth and Young Adults (Umatter YYA) are important resources within our communities.  Another recent deployment of the Umatter for Youth and Young Adults program just concluded.  Two local schools in Vermont gathered teams to implement the program with their students.  After training in the curriculum, the students worked over several months implementing projects within their schools.  A sampling of initiatives undertaken include:

  • Conducting a “Wellness Day” with workshops provided by over 12 community partners on topics such as positive psychology, careers in the mental health field, healthy eating and snacking, restorative justice and ending school violence, yoga, substance use, pet therapy, and mindfulness/awareness meditation.
  • Implementing a Capstone Project around Adolescent Depression and Suicide including a suicide prevention lesson plan that has become part of the mandatory freshman health curriculum. 
  • Distribution of Crisis Textline Posters and tear-off sheets throughout the school.
  • Production of a short student film which was posted to YouTube.

Some lessons learned from the training are reflected in comments students made after the training:

  • “Talk to someone you trust about how you feel.”
  • “It’s not wrong to feel sad – feel the sadness to move beyond.”
  • “Learn about others before you make judgments.”
  • Every challenge is an opportunity to grow stronger.”

Research indicates that programs that give people the tools to talk about suicide can reduce suicide. Programs that promote talking about mental health can save lives, especially when combined with other strategies -- but those programs must be sustained over time.

Our school and community partners in these implementations are eager to expand their work around positive mental health and wellness.   With YOUR help, we hope to continue to expand our reach into schools and communities with our Umatter Programs – which provide students the tools they need to navigate life’s challenges.  Please consider a recurring donation to provide long term support of this program.  Click on the "Give Now" button below.

To learn more about our upcoming Umatter trainings, click on PDF link to a training brochure below or visit our website at


Aug 10, 2018

Latest News from Umatter-Suicide Prevention in New England

We would like to provide you with an update on activities related to our efforts to reduce suicide in New England.  Your generous donations have helped us promote mental health and emotional resilience in Vermont and throughout New England through public education, promotion of prevention policies, and training opportunities to a wide cross section of individuals, schools, and communities.  

Our objectives are to equip youth and adult gatekeepers with the knowledge and skills necessary for responding effectively to signs of distress, and to intervene early with those who are showing warning signs of mental health issues or suicide.  We encourage strategies for promoting mental health wellness which includes healthy coping mechanisms among both youth and adults.

In the past year, we have trained 760 individuals in the areas of mental health promotion and suicide awareness and prevention.  Our audiences have included:

  • Schools - Staff and Students
  • Communities - Social Service Agencies, First Responders, Business Professionals
  • Health Care - Providers, Administrators, Insurers
  • Coalitions - State Agencies, Mental Health Agencies, and other Stakeholders

Some testimonials from these trainings include:

  • There is always so much to learn from other organizations who deal with individuals suffering from suicide;
  • I brought lots of resources and ideas back to my school;
  • The informattion will inform our future health education curriculum.

We will continue to reach out to individuals and organizations throughout the region.

"No One Has To Walk Alone" Fundraiser - In our last report, we told you about Betsy LeBlanc who was about to embark on a month-long 272 mile hike of the Vermont Long Trail, one of our country's most beautiful and challenging long distance trails, in support of the Umatter - Suicide Prevention in New England project. From her own struggles with mental illness and suicide, she wanted to foster an open and inclusive conversation about suicide and depression with the hope of creating a culture where no one who struggles with these issues has to walk alone.  We are happy to report that Betsy successfully completed her hike and raised a total of $6,325!  Follow Betsy's journey at her Facebook page at the link below.

There is still an opportunity to support Betsy's efforts at the project below.  We thank Betsy for her efforts!  And thank you to all of her donors!

Your support of our work will allow us to to continue our efforts in reducing the level of suicide in our communities.  


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