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Boca group starts conversation on mental illness

Posted at 7:06 PM, Jan 21, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-21 19:06:30-05

It affects more people than cancer, but mental illness doesn't get nearly the attention.

One Palm Beach County group wants to change that. Boca Raton's Promise is opening up the conversation on mental health.

Its founder says there is a stigma surrounding bipolar disorder, depression, and other common mental illnesses. Rita Thrasher hopes conversations will break stereotypes and help people accept those suffering with mental illnesses.

The group brought in speaker Hakeem Rahim to launch a dialogue about the topic with his Let's Talk Mental Illness program.

Today, he spoke with students at Atlantic High School in Delray Beach. The mental health awareness expert shared stories of his struggles with bipolar disorder.

"I don't want anybody to go through the pain and suffering I went through so deeply, this is why I do what I do," he says.

Rahim says he doesn't let his illness define who he is. He encouraged students to reach out to classmates they know are suffering, and to not be afraid to ask for help.

"If we support and we show those kids, we show those adults, that we understand them, that we can empathize with them, I think they will feel more comfortable," explains junior student Jesula Jeannot.

Boca Raton's Promise is hosting a public event with Rahim Friday. It will be held from 7:30 p.m. to 8:45 p.m. at Boca Raton Regional Hospital's Dawson Theater.