A new initiative in Palm Beach County aims to increase understanding of mental health issues and raise awareness of resources available for those in need.
The Palm Beach County Action Alliance for Mental Health (AAMH) includes mental health service providers, school officials, advocates and other stakeholders working together to promote and support education, early identification and awareness of available services throughout the county.
New donations totaling $150,000 will support the AAMH mission to “break the silence” and end the stigma around mental illness that discourages many people from seeking help.
The Palm Beach County AAMH was founded through the efforts of a local nonprofit organization, Boca Raton’s Promise, which received a donation of $100,000 from the Jacobs Charitable Trust and a private donation of $50,000.
The new funding will be used to enhance AAMH efforts countywide, with stakeholders working together to support initiatives and programs that lead to early identification of mental health issues and foster an atmosphere in which adults, children, parents and grandparents feel comfortable seeking help for themselves or their loved ones.
A workshop event in Boynton Beach on Sept. 21, “Breaking the Silence in Boynton Beach and Lake Worth,” is supported by the group and aims at assisting people in both communities. Boynton Beach Mayor Jerry Taylor will be among those in attendance.
“We realize the challenges of today’s world and the opportunities to shape tomorrow’s world. We seek to find and assist such opportunities. We are pleased to contribute to the combined community energies of the AAMH currently underway in Palm Beach County,” said Lord Anthony Jacobs of the Jacobs Charitable Trust.
The AAMH will coordinate efforts among invested agencies, organizations and individuals to ultimately create an appropriate level of respect for mental health issues among all community members and public officials.
Organizations committed to AAMH include the School District of Palm Beach County, the Palm Beach County Health Department’s Community and School Division, the Alpert Jewish Family and Children’s Service, the American Association of Caregiving Youth, the Health Care District of Palm Beach County, the National Alliance on Mental Illness in Palm Beach County, the Mental Health Association of Palm Beach County, the Faulk Center for Counseling and others.
“Far too many individuals and families struggle with mental health issues in silence and fear,” said Rita Thrasher, Palm Beach County AAMH founder and president/CEO of Boca Raton’s Promise. “It is especially heartbreaking for parents of struggling children who feel helpless, fear discrimination and don’t know where to turn for help.”
Thrasher stressed that the group will be active countywide.
“Working together, AAMH members will be active in all communities raising awareness so that mental health and its impact receives the respect it deserves,” she said. “This generous infusion of financial support will benefit all AAMH members and community stakeholders, and hopefully result in people of all ages having a greater awareness of existing resources to improve their quality of life.”
Boca Raton’s Promise is celebrating its 15th year of working to “break the silence” by encouraging the community and schools to recognize that keeping silent is a problem that impedes progress, especially for youth. The organization’s founder, Dr. Merrilee Middleton, was honored at a recent anniversary event where she expressed gratitude for the longtime support of entities such as Boca Raton Regional Hospital, the Schmidt Family Foundation, Palm Beach State College and the Jacobs Charitable Trust.