Stand Together

A school-based, peer-to-peer, behavioral health, anti-stigma program.

Watch the full-length video for more information.

Goals of Stand Together™

Stand Together™

  • trains, inspires and equips middle and high school youth to act against stigma toward peers with mental and/or substance use disorders.
  • seeks to reduce negative attitudes and beliefs.
  • promotes social inclusion.
  • promotes help-seeking behavior by youth.

How It Works

Each school

  • identifies an adult advisor to champion Stand Together™ and to coach the core team members.
  • selects a core team made up of approximately 20 students, including student leaders as well as students who have lived experience with mental and/or substance use disorders.

The core team members

  • participate in a Stand Together™ training.
  • develop a Stand Together™ project based on their ideas.
  • write a grant proposal to the DHS Office of Behavioral Health (OBH).
  • receive up to $1,000 to implement their project.
  • implement and complete their project.

The funding/training entity (OBH)

  • provides training to advisors and core team members.
  • reviews all the grant proposals
  • funds the proposals based on the participation level selected by the school.
  • provides ongoing technical assistance to schools.
  • sponsors a recognition event at a local cultural center to showcase projects among participating schools.

Changes We’ve Seen

Among other positive changes, data collected since 2014 from a standardized survey tool administered to members of the core team—immediately after training and at the end of the school year—demonstrated

  • increased learning of factual knowledge about mental disorders.
  • more positive attitudes toward peers who have mental disorders.
  • an increased willingness to interact with peers with mental disorders in a variety of school and social settings.

Anecdotal evidence suggests additional benefits follow the implementation of Stand Together™.

  • Student projects change the culture at their schools in that mental health and substance use issues are no longer taboo subjects.
  • More students reach out for help than before the project started.
  • Advisors, teachers and school principals report increased acceptance and inclusion of students with these disorders due to Stand Together™.
  • Students develop a personal commitment to end stigma by re-educating peers to create social change.


Our partner schools have great things to say about Stand Together™. Learn more on the Stand Together™ Website.

Cost of the Program

Since the cost of Stand Together™ is entirely dependent upon the number of schools participating, the amount of time the project coordinator devotes to it and market prices for each expense, only categories of expenses are noted below. Program administrators are responsible for deciding the details. Allegheny County provided two days of training to each 20-member core team at five schools.

Essential Expenses

  • Project coordinator/trainer (0.5 FTE) - (salary and benefits)
    • Note: If the year-end recognition event is not held, the project coordinator/trainer could be a 0.3 FTE.
  • Website design/build/maintenance
  • Workshop training assistant
  • Food at trainings
  • Program travel
  • Funding for school projects
  • Program supplies

Optional Expenses

  • School advisor stipend
  • Advisor orientation luncheon
  • Electronic tablets (8")
  • Year-end recognition event
    • Event location
    • Bus transportation
    • Plaques for schools
    • Keynote speaker
    • Lunches for students

While a single school can start its own Stand Together™ chapter and address stigma within that school, a coordinating entity that interacts with multiple schools results in a broader impact.


  • Mental Health America SW PA Innovation in Programming Award
  • West Mifflin Area High School Stand Together™ Team-2015 Educator Award for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
  • Advisor Lauren Rowe and trainer Holly Turkovic selected as finalists for the Consortium for Public Education’s Champions of Learning Award
  • West Mifflin HS Stand Together™ Advisor, Lauren Rowe, named West Mifflin Area School District PTA Volunteer of the Year Award
  • West Mifflin MS Stand Together™ team featured in Spring 2016 national NAMI VOICE newsletter
  • Featured in Pittsburgh Tribune Review article (Dec. 2013) by Tory N. Parrish which received an award from the Southwestern Pennsylvania Media and Mental Health Journalism

Related Resources