Palm Beach County Action Alliance For Mental Illness Spreads Awareness At Annual Luncheon

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Staff report
It was an afternoon of speaking up. Speaking up about mental health and discussing ways the community has and can continue to come together to address mental illness.
The third annual Voice Awards recognized those who are making strides in breaking the silence on mental illnesses throughout Palm Beach County.
The event was presented by the Palm Beach County Action Alliance for Mental Illness and sponsored by Boca Raton’s Promise. Grand benefactor Maria Kosec, lost two siblings to mental illness, and her mother Rita Thrasher co-founded Boca Raton’s Promise.
The event showcased a gallery display “Mental Health HEAD ON,” which was created by Florida Atlantic University Nursing students. They discuss encounters they had with various mental health patients through art on a head. A description of what the student encountered with that patient was posted next to the artistic display of “what is going on in the head of that patient.”
Hosted by Bonnie Kaye of Kaye Communications and member of “I am 1” a women’s auxiliary aiming to break the silence on mental illness by gathering support of 1,000 women, the event featured an original film, personal stories and an awards ceremony.
“It’s all about conversations,” Kaye told the crowd. “And turning up the volume.”
The volume was turned up for the debut of a seven-minute original film “We are One.” The screening featured several women who shared their family’s story with mental health. The film showed how mental illness affects relationships between siblings, couples, friends, co-workers with raw, truthful emotion.
Congresswoman Lois Frankel shared some opening remarks about her own personal struggle with panic attacks as a college student.
She said her story dates back 50 years. She was about to graduate college and she kept have panic attacks. She asked her parents if she could see a psychiatrist and remembers her father saying that if she did she wouldn’t be able to get a job because it would always be on her record.
So, she said she suffered in silence. Eventually, she said she would coach herself through the attacks and she hasn’t had a panic attack in decades.
Even though there are laws in place to protect people with mental illness, she said there is still more work to be done to put mental health on par with physical health.
Others followed sharing their own struggles, stories and triumphs in helping bring attention to mental health causes.
Awards were given to individuals making a difference when it comes to addressing mental health issues.
Winners included:
Advocacy: Johanna Kandel
Community Engagement: Dr. Seth Bernstein
Film Production: Ana Cristina Lerner
Service and Training: Dr. Holly Katz
Author: Donna Gephart, Lilly & Dunkin
Chairman’s Award: Sun Sentinel Investigative team’s “Dying for Help” series