Acceptance, hope fuel evening focused on mental health
Hakeem Rahim, the nationally recognized mental health advocate, brought his I Am Acceptance College Tour to Palm Beach State College’s Boca Raton campus Thursday evening. The tour aims to create a culture of mental wellness on campuses nationwide that will decrease the stigma of mental illness, promote mental health and empower students to take full control of their mental health.
Rahim shared his own journey with bipolar disorder with the audience of more than 100, telling the students, faculty and staff, and community members that there is absolutely no shame in getting help. He said the first step in getting help is acceptance and that there is hope. “You can go through tremendous loss but still find a way to move forward,” he said. He urged everyone to think about what they can do to promote mental health by taking care of themselves and others and being advocates in the community.
The evening also highlighted PBSC’s partnership with BayCare Behavioral Health to provide voluntary, confidential counseling services for students. Through the partnership, PBSC students can call 800-878-5470 and speak 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 directs PBSC’s Student Counseling Center, spoke as part of the evening’s panel discussion, which also included Christian Allen, a PBSC student and leader in such organizations as Birth to 22 and Future Leaders United for Change. Other local leaders present included Flawless Foundation founder Janine Francolini.
The evening was co-hosted by Boca Raton’s Promise, which provides mental health education and awareness activities for early identification and access to services in Boca Raton and Palm Beach County.
Rita Thrasher, president and CEO of Boca Raton’s Promise, closed the evening by asking everyone to break the silence and start a conversation about mental health. “Tell someone what you did tonight,” she implored.