Campus & Community

Mental health advocate to speak at PBSC Feb. 22

Hakeem Rahim, a nationally recognized mental health advocate, will speak at Palm Beach State College in Boca Raton Feb. 22.

The Harvard graduate, who began speaking openly in 2012 about his 18-year journey with bipolar disorder, will present his talk titled “Acceptance” from 6 – 7:30 p.m. in room 103 in the Humanities and Technology Center. Hosted by PBSC in partnership with nonprofit group Boca Raton’s Promise, the event aims to raise awareness and educate people about mental illness. It is free and open to the public.

Through his speaking and advocacy work, Rahim has spoken to law enforcement officials, individuals with mental illness and their family members and to over 50,000 college, high school and middle school students. He also has testified on Capitol Hill about his experiences living with bipolar disorder. He is the president and CEO of I Am Acceptance Inc., a nonprofit organization committed to building platforms around values of community, acceptance and joy to ensure mental wellness for all. He is also founder and CEO of Live Breathe, LLC.

Rahim, the first African-American male valedictorian in the history of Uniondale High School in New York, earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Harvard University and then attended Teachers College, Columbia University where he completed two master’s degrees.

Rita Thrasher, president and CEO of Boca Raton’s Promise, said she is pleased to collaborate with the College. Her group also secured funds from local businesses and organizations to sponsor the event.

“This is very important to our community. Globally and nationally mental health and mental illness are being talked about more now than ever before. Most people would say we are in a crisis right now,’’ she said, noting that one in four people will be severely impacted by mental illness. “Mental health awareness is so badly needed, and schools are not equipped to provide the education and awareness for young people—high schools and colleges alike.”

The event follows an announcement by Palm Beach State College that it has partnered with BayCare Behavioral Health to provide broader and more convenient access to counseling and other services for its 49,000 students on five campuses. Through the partnership, PBSC students can call 800-878-5470 and speak confidentially to an experienced mental health professional who will listen to their concerns and connect them to licensed counselors in their geographic area.

BayCare representative Jaqui Turner and Jeannie Hoban, a licensed clinical social worker who also provides counseling for PBSC students, will speak at the event. View the event flyer.

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