Youth Aware of Mental Health (YAM)

The UTHealth Houston Youth Aware of Mental Health (YAM) program is an evidence-based program delivered by certified facilitators to students in the classroom setting at no cost. YAM encourages discussion of mental health topics and suicide prevention in order to help youth develop coping skills and resiliency.

YAM was founded in Europe as a response to rising youth suicide rates. In 2015, the Saving and Empowering Young Lives in Europe (SEYLE) study compared the efficacy of different school-based suicide prevention programs in 168 schools across ten European countries. YAM stood out as the only program that significantly reduced incident severe suicidal ideation and suicide attempts (Wasserman et al., 2015). More recent studies have supported the feasibility and acceptability of YAM in U.S. schools (Lindow et al., 2020).

YAM is an interactive universal prevention program meaning it is given to all students as opposed to targeting those who may be struggling. The data shows that for every 91 students who participate in YAM, 1 severe case of suicidal ideation or suicide attempt is prevented.

Students in grades 8th through 12th are eligible to receive YAM. The program is delivered in three to five 45-60-minute interactive sessions over three to five weeks. Students attend one or two sessions per week (Monday/Wednesday or Tuesday/Thursday) with a day in between to reflect on the material. The six main themes of the program are:

  • What is mental health?
  • What can make me feel better?
  • What kinds of situations can cause stress?
  • What is depression?
  • How do you know if a friend needs help?
  • Who can I ask for advice?

YAM is about getting students the help they need and deserve. Our team is excited to collaborate with school administration to bring YAM to Houston.