Umatter -- Prevent Teen Suicide in New England!

by Center for Health & Learning
Umatter -- Prevent Teen Suicide in New England!
Umatter -- Prevent Teen Suicide in New England!
Umatter -- Prevent Teen Suicide in New England!
Umatter -- Prevent Teen Suicide in New England!
Umatter -- Prevent Teen Suicide in New England!
Umatter -- Prevent Teen Suicide in New England!
Umatter -- Prevent Teen Suicide in New England!
Umatter -- Prevent Teen Suicide in New England!
Umatter -- Prevent Teen Suicide in New England!
Umatter -- Prevent Teen Suicide in New England!
Umatter -- Prevent Teen Suicide in New England!
Umatter -- Prevent Teen Suicide in New England!

The Center for Health and Learning is pleased to announce that their video "What is Umatter® YYA", produced with the assistance of Brattleboro Community TV, has won the first place Community Impact award at the 2020 Nor'Easter Video Festival put on by the Alliance for Community Media - Northeast Regions (ACM-NE). Community Impact Awards recognize “Making a Difference” programs that generate community involvement and interest through awareness, empowerment or education.

This 4 minute video describes our Umatter® for Youth and Young Adults program, a youth leadership initiative which promotes mental health wellness.

Many thanks to Brattleboro Community Action Television for their outstanding work on this video. We are grateful for their partnership.

As this year comes to an end, the Center for Health and Learning would like to thank all of our colleagues, partners, sponsors, and training participants with whom we have worked. Our collaborative efforts to improve the health of our communities, despite the challenges we all faced this year, have been an inspiration to us all and motivates us to continue this important work. On behalf of the CHL Board of Directors and CHL Staff, we wish you a safe and happy new year.


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On August 18, 2020, the VT Suicide Prevention Center (VT-SPC), in collaboration with the Center for Health and Learning (CHL), presented the Vermont Suicide Prevention Symposium 2020: Bringing Resilience into Focus. The virtual Symposium was a huge success and attracted over 350 participants from healthcare, social services, mental health, community-based organizations, state agencies, policy makers and people with lived experience.

The goal of the Symposium was to empower and engage community-wide stakeholders in Zero Suicide strategies, evidence-based practices, and lessons learned in the field. By facilitating connections between misuse and suicide prevention stakeholders, it will become easier to advance effective prevention strategies. These connections can create new ways to form innovative collaborations and increase knowledge about risk and protective factors and recommend strategies for working with vulnerable populations. This is especially important in Vermont where suicide rates are higher than the national average.

The Symposium brought together national, regional, and local keynote and workshop presenters covering a wide range of topics including youth, older adults, LGBTQ+, lethal means, law enforcement, veterans, telehealth, peer support, social justice and racial equity. Each speaker shared powerful and compelling stories revolving around their own lived experiences with suicide and mental health and/or professional experience from the field.

Keynote and Workshops presentations at the symposium included:

  • Widening the Lens: Social Justice and Racial Equity in Suicide Prevention
  • Away from No way: Every Child Has a Story, Every Story Deserves Heroes
  • Community Collaboration for Zero Suicide: The Lamoille County Experience
  • Zero Suicide Pathway to Care - Addressing Challenges for Systems Engagement
  • Integrating Suicide Focused Care in Primary and Specialty Care
  • Reframing Resiliency: Doing More and Asking Less Of The LGBTQIA+ Community
  • Telehealth & Suicide Prevention: Supporting Mental Health Clients Remotely
  • Lethal Means Safety and Suicide Prevention: New Approaches for Firearm Safe Storage Counseling
  • Care Transitions:  Best Practices, Innovation, and Community-based Connections
  • Comprehensive Suicide Prevention in K-12 Schools
  • Strategies for Engaging Students in Success and Building Resilience
  • The Nature and Roles of Mental Health Peer Support
  • A Veteran’s Perspective on Suicide Survival and Prevention
  • Drowning while Flying High: When a Leader Struggles with Depression and Suicidal Thoughts

See more of what took place at the Symposium by visiting

CHL and the VT-SPC would like to thank our event sponsors, including:

The Vermont Deparment of Mental Health
C&S Grocers
Chroma Technology
The Mental Health Technology Transfer Center
UVM Medical Center
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Vermont
North Country Hospital
New England Publlc Health Training Center 
Northeast Telehealth Resource Center (NETRC)
Vermont Care Partners
Vermont Department of Health
Invest EAP
Mt. Ascutney Hospital and Health Center


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With all the uncertainty that COVID 19 is bringing to our lives and communities, CHL and the Vermont Suicide Prevention Center wants to remain a resource for young people with Umatter® Youth and Young Adults.  We can’t always guarantee safety with in person events, and so for the moment, we are adapting and sustaining our work in order to maintain contact with our youth participants even though they are out of the physical school environment. 

We are moving to the virtual-verse!

Since the Umatter YYA in-person culmination event scheduled for April 29 was cancelled, we are moving the event to a virtual format. Through a facilitated process, Umatter YYA participants will be able to share their stories, experiences with YYA, celebrate successes, and generally connect about what is happening in their worlds.

Because the YYA curriculum concepts are as important now as ever. 

CHL is also offering interested youth a wonderful creative opportunity by requesting input on a re-design of the website.  This award-winning website will be improved and informed by youth feedback about how it could be better and more useful to them and their peers.

Knowing how important it is to continue this work, CHL will continue to adapt our programming to meet the needs of the schools, adults and young people who we have the honor of working with. 

We expect there to be many more mental health challenges to address that have been brought on with the current COVID-19 crisis.  With your support, we can be there to help.

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Ten schools across the state of Vermont are participating in this year’s Umatter Youth and Young Adult program this school year.  The Kick Off Training event was held Nov. 14th, 2019 at Lake Morey Resort and was facilitated by six Rutland High School students and 4 adult supporters covering topics including how to change your mindset, cope with stress, and help a friend who maybe thinking of suicide.

Overall, 95% of the youth who attended the event ranked it as good or excellent and stated that the most useful aspects were learning how to help a friend thinking of suicide.  “It is so important to address this issue and give youth the skills and resources they need to help their friends,” says Umatter YYA Trainer, Debby Haskins. “We emphasize in the training that they never want to keep suicide a secret and help teens identify adutls they can go to for help.”

Preliminary data on pre-post evaluation of knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors show a significant change in the following:

  • Increased understanding of how to use resources to maintain mental health.
  • Increased awareness of emotions
  • Increased confidence in knowing the resources available to help friends who are suicidal.
  • Increased awareness of the warning signs of suicide.
  • More students had supportive adults they could speak to. 
  • Fewer students felt bad about themselves in the light of others' success. 
  • More students walked away from the event with 3 constructive strategies to deal with stress.

The 10 groups are now meeting regularly in their schools and will be planning Mental Health Wellness Community Action Projects to impact their school community.  The groups will come together again at the end of April to share their projects and celebrate their efforts.

To lean more visit:

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The Umatter Youth and Young Adult (YYA) program kicks off this year on November 14th at Lake Morey Resort. We are currently recruiting groups of youth ages 12-21 from schools and community organizations. Our new promotional video is helping us communicate what youth can expect to experience and achieve by participating. You can view the video here:

 This year we are conducting a comprehensive evaluation of the program. Evaluators from the Center for Rural Studies are creating evaluation tools to gather both process and impact data. This information will help us improve the quality of the program as well as determine how the program impacts the resiliency of participating youth. A full evaluation report will be published by June 2020. 

Umatter YYA is collaborating with a number of organizations around the state of Vermont who also provide youth engagement opportunities including Vermont Afterschool, UVM Extension, Up for Learning, and Vermont Federation of Families to name a few. This collaboration will allow us to offer new opportunities for leadership and facilitation skill development as well as connection with other youth leaders around the state. We are excited to be a part of the growing efforts to empower youth to take action in impacting issues that matter to them.

Please help support Umatter for Youth and Young Aduts by giving to this project today!

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Center for Health & Learning

Location: Brattleboro, VT - USA
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @health_learning
Project Leader:
Sara Haimowitz
Brattleboro, VT United States
$14,534 raised of $15,000 goal
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