The P.A.U.S.E. Program

NAMI York Adams Counties PA created the P.A.U.S.E. Program to support the mental health and wellbeing of local young people.

P.A.U.S.E. is a rapidly growing program that supports the mental health of young people through three tiers of outreach to the students, faculty, and families of York County public schools. The core of the program is peer support groups for middle and high school students held in schools during the weekly bell schedule. This peer-led program has created much-needed safe space for students to come together, support each other, and talk about concerns/issues pertaining to their mental health. The program’s secondary objective is to support youth mental health through educational outreach to the adult stakeholders in their lives. The program also includes mental health education and peer support groups for school faculty and staff to enable them to work on their own mental wellness while simultaneously becoming more receptive to the needs of their students. PAUSE provides educational presences at school community events and NAMI Signature Educational Programs for parents/caregivers.


York and Adams Counties Pennsylvania are no exception to the undeniable national youth mental health crisis:

  • 50% of all lifetime cases of mental illness began by age 14 and 75% of adults with mental illness began experiencing symptoms before the age of 24.
  • Prior to COVID, statistically, one-in-five teens lived with a mental health condition. Since the pandemic it may be as high as one-in-three teens affected.
  • Suicide is the second leading cause of death in the USA between ages 15 – 34
  • 37% of students aged 14 and up with a mental health condition drop out of school – the highest dropout rate of any disability group
  • According to the American Psychiatric Association, an estimated 15 million children need mental health care but there are just 8-9 thousand psychiatrists that treat youth, and young people often remain on waiting lists for months before seeing a mental healthcare professional.
  • Schools provide mental health support nets of assorted composition varying from school system to school system. Resources like school psychologists, social workers, and guidance counselors are calibrated around working with individual students on a case-by-case basis. P.A.U.S.E. provides a novel opportunity to work with students in peer groups. It provides students with a new additional therapeutic outlet, and it enables participating faculty & staff to interact with their student cases in a different group dynamic.
  • The pandemic and other stresses of recent times have increased anxiety and depression
  • Anyone can work to improve his or her mental health and wellbeing at any age


Our plan is to utilize The P.A.U.S.E. Program to expand NAMI-YA outreach to ‘under 18’ individuals, leveraging NAMI’s core competencies to address the youth mental health crisis in York and Adams Counties. We will:

  1. Directly support young people through peer-to-peer support groups and specialized education
  2. Indirectly create a more supportive environment for young people’s mental health through NAMI Signature education and advocacy targeted at the adult stakeholders in their lives


P.A.U.S.E. is a three-tier mental health program designed to offer crisis prevention, recovery support, and wellness education to the students, faculty, and families served by your school district. It is offered by NAMI York Adams Counties PA at no cost to you or your school district.

NAMI-YA is building relationships with York County school systems to utilize young people’s primary identity as “students” as the context in which to reach them with peer-to-peer support groups, education, and other mental health services of The PAUSE Program free of charge.

The primary issue that The PAUSE Program seeks to address is a York County youth’s perception that he/she/it/they are alone in their mental health struggle. Young people suffer in silence unaware of the empowerment that could be found in a community of peers, all on similar mental health journeys, each dealing with their own respective issues, together sharing lived experiences both bad and good.

First and foremost, tactically, PAUSE seeks to supplement the lack of peer-to-peer mental health support group help available to youth in York County. The peer-to-peer support group methodology is a unique and valuable component of a well-rounded mental health regimen that is otherwise absent from the existing support infrastructure. Above and beyond anything else it offers, PAUSE will be unique in its offering of this methodology to young people in York County, let alone with the added efficiencies that come from working with students in a school setting.


PAUSE student programming occurs in middle and high schools during the school day bell schedule.

The primary service offering of The PAUSE Program are student peer-to-peer support groups. These meetings last for one class period and are attended by approximately 10 students with their guidance-department-supervised scheduling depending on the length of the meeting to ensure that all individuals can participate in the conversation. These discussions are guided by two specially trained NAMI-YA PAUSE Facilitators (with all clearances required to work in schools with students). Schools host two to five support groups per week depending on demand.

Student assemblies like “Ending The Silence” and classroom educational presentations are scheduled on an ad hoc basis to reach a broader audience than just the support group participants.

PAUSE adult programming also occurs in those same schools but after the students’ school day.

Faculty and staff programming mirrors student programming in that it is a combination of support groups along with regularized and ad hoc educational presentations/workshops.

Parent and community programming is driven by the opportunities presented by the school’s calendar to provide educational presences at events etc. Schools also help us publicize available NAMI Signature Educational Programs to parents and caregivers.


The P.A.U.S.E. Program was launched in the fall of 2021 as a test and learn and grow “pilot program”. The Spring Grove and West York school systems began offering student support groups in October 2021. The Northeastern school system joined the program in March of 2022.


The following school districts are offering PAUSE to their students:

  • Northeastern Area School District
  • Southwestern Area School District
  • Spring Grove Area School District
  • West York Area School District
  • York Suburban Area School District
  • York Area Regional Charter School

If you have a student who is interested in participating in The P.A.U.S.E. Program, please contact your school guidance counselor or administrator.

If you are interested in having your school system join The P.A.U.S.E. Program, please contact NAMI-YA.


Please contact Jazmin Cartwright, Program Director at jazmin.cartwright@namiyorkadams.org

Or click here to tell us.



Why was The P.A.U.S.E. Program created? NAMI-YA created P.A.U.S.E. to address an overwhelming need in our community school systems. We hope to help supplement the overtaxed student mental health support infrastructure of your local middle school and high school. This video was created to help answer this question. https://vimeo.com/543896471