RPBHS SADD Brings Mental Illness Into The Light

On Monday, Nov. 30, Royal Palm Beach High School students attended the Mental Health Awareness Fair held during all three lunch periods.

The fair had a carnival-like atmosphere and included games. Music was provided by the RPBHS student council. At each carnival station, the conditions and definitions of various mental illnesses were displayed.

Guests at the event included SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions), the Palm Beach County Substance Awareness Coalition, the Hanley Center, the RPBHS Guidance Department, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, Positive Pocket, Lauren Dobbs and DATA.

“Children’s family members and doctors are more focused on physical illness, leaving mental illness in the dark,” explained SADD Advisor Maureen Witkowski.

One in five children suffer from mental illness and only 20 percent get help. Some of these children drop out of school and some resort to self-medication.

The Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act passed seven years ago, in 2008. This law requires insurance coverage for mental health, behavioral health and substance-use disorders. Finally, mental illness has been defined as a condition needing medical intervention.

The majority of the time, mental illness is not diagnosed because it is not talked about or screened enough. Prior to the fair, the school’s guidance department offered an anonymous wellness survey that the majority of the students participated in to bring greater awareness to mental wellness.

This Mental Health Awareness Fair was a huge success and had participation from more than half the school.

ABOVE: Lauren and Scott Dobbs, Michael Bryant, Joel Velasquez and Michael Hill.