The Palm Beach County Action Alliance For Mental Health Voice Awards Luncheon, presented by Boca Raton’s Promise and its I AM 1 Women’s Advocacy Group, recognized the great strides made by Florida state legislators and city government leaders in helping to break the ‘deafening’ silence on emotional and mental illness for those living and working in Palm Beach County. More than 130 key state, county and city stakeholders, including legislators; nonprofit, business and community leaders and family members of those struggling with emotional and mental health challenges were in attendance at Broken Sound Club to raise the volume to propel the movement for increased community awareness, education and understanding to create brave, bold mind-healthy communities.


Action Alliance Steering Committee Member Dr. Seth Bernstein served as master of ceremonies. Boca Raton Mayor and President of the Florida League of Cities, Inc. Susan Haynie provided a warm welcome and recognized the trailblazing efforts of Boca Raton’s Promise. Hakeem Rahim who testified twice on mental illness before a US Senate Committee on Health, Education, Pensions & Labor gave the keynote speech ‘The Power of Acceptance’. Florida State Senator Maria Sachs presented a Florida Senate Proclamation to Boca Raton’s Promise Co-founder and President Rita Thrasher. The recognition applauded Thrasher’s ‘brave’ leadership and efforts in education to break the silence on
the hidden struggles of those in Palm Beach County.

Under the leadership of Action Alliance member Rachael Ondrus the coveted 2016 Palm Beach County Action Alliance For Mental Health Voice Awards were presented to Florida State Senator Joseph Abruzzo (accepted by his legislative aide Shreya Kuntawala), Florida State Senator René Garcia (accepted via video acceptance), Florida State Representative Gayle Harrell, Former Boynton Beach Mayor Rev. Woodrow Hayand Riviera Beach Councilwoman Lynne Hubbard.


Organizations represented at the luncheon included Palm Beach County School District, Florida Atlantic University, Palm Beach State College, Boca Raton Regional Hospital, Southeast Florida Mental Health Association, National Alliance on Mental Illness, Faulk Center for Counseling, The American Association of Caregiving Youth®, Alpert Jewish Family Services, Adolph & Rose Levis Jewish Community Center and Best Foot Forward. Municipalities represented included Boca Raton, Boynton Beach, West Palm Beach, Riviera Beach, Wellington and Stuart.


Demonstrating that emotional and mental illnesses are more common than many think, Thrasher and others shared key statistics, including that 1 in 4 adults will have a mental illness in their lifetime; mental illness outnumbers cancer, diabetes and heart attacks combined; one-half of all mental illnesses begin by age 14 and 22% of middle school students reported considering suicide (2011). These illnesses are related to bullying, dropout, absenteeism, violence; it affects all ages, cultures, faiths, workplaces and schools. Because is not taught, nor talked about the silence fear and shame prevent those who need help and their loved ones from seeking it.


For more information on the Boca Raton’s Promise, its mission, vision and programming and/or the Palm Beach County Action Alliance, visit, email [email protected] or
call (561) 866-1850.