Speak up! Speak out!

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Breaking the Silence / New Mexico (BTS / NM) confronts the myths and stereotypes about mental illness and suicide with presentations, trainings, professional development, and community forums.

What do we teach?

Our curriculum, which aligns with New Mexico state health standards and is based on best practices, challenges myths reinforcing stigma surrounding mental illness and suicide. We:

  • Assist people to gain insight into the support individuals with an illness and their families need,

  • Educate people to view mental illnesses like any chronic illness,

  • Build the case for increasing student access to mental health education and professionals; and,

  • Establish mental illness, suicide, and anti-stigma education as critical to health education.


To prepare teams of trained facilitators to present an interactive lesson that educates students to:

  • Recognize that mental illnesses are biologically based,

  • Understand the value of peer support systems,

  • Recognize warning signs, and support early treatment, and

  • Use local and national resources

How did it all begin?

BTS/NM Board President Desiree Woodland’s son Ryan had a diagnosed mental illness. In 2007 he died by suicide at the age of 24. She identified the urgent need for mental illness education in New Mexico’s middle and high schools.

In a talk to the mayor and the city of Albuquerque in 2013, Desiree shared,

". . . . My heart breaks open to realize that I was ill-equipped—he was ill-equipped—to understand mental illness. After he died, I began to educate myself and saw the great need to educate youth to make it okay to talk about something that had been hushed up, covered over with shame as if it was the fault of the person who HAD mental illness. It is not a moral weakness or a character flaw but an illness. . . . I have endeavored to be his voice because he didn't have one, to speak up and give youth the language to engage in dialogue, and remove the shame from mental illness."