Students gathered for the second annual Minds Matter Rally March 10 in the TMB auditorium. The rally, which aims to raise awareness for people struggling with mental illnesses, was co-sponsored by BFT Promotions and Active Minds, Inc.

BFT (Battling for Truth) Promotions was founded by Gary Mank, who said the group strives to create positive environments through music and entertainment. Active Minds is a non-profit organization that seeks to spread knowledge about mental health disorders.

According to the Active Minds website, “With over 400 student-led chapters across North America, Active Minds is the only organization working to utilize the student voice to change the conversation about mental health on college campuses.”   

Paris Coleman hosted the rally, which featured testimony from individuals affected by mental illnesses, along with poetry readings and a hip-hop concert.

Jill Waters, who works with Bradford Health Services, gave her testimony on how mental illness affected her family; her brother fell victim to drug addiction and was diagnosed with depression.

Waters focused on the emergency consultation service that Bradford Health Services provides. During emergency consultations, the Bradford staff will offer their services to both patients and their family.

“Mental illness is something that no one wants to deal with. We’re here because we want to help the patient and their family,” she said.

After reading his poem “Beauty,” Carlus Houston spoke about the dangers of eating disorders. Houston is an outreach associate for Veritas Collaborative, which is a specialty hospital that offers treatment for individuals suffering from eating disorders.

He said that people who suffer from an eating disorder have a 31 percent higher mortality rate than people who suffer from other mental illnesses. Veritas has facilities in Durham, N.C. and Richmond, Va. Houston announced at the rally that Veritas has been approved to open a new 50-bed hospital in Atlanta, Ga.

Lindsey Baucom, president of the Jacksonville chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, spoke about the work she does. NAMI is a grassroots mental health awareness organization.

They offer education, support, information, and advocacy services. Baucom said that NAMI holds meetings every second Tuesday of each month.

The meetings are held at KL Brown Funeral Home in the community room from 6-7 p.m. Everyone is welcome to attend. NAMI has various speakers who talk about various disorders, services offered and facilities around the area.

Lori Speakman
Staff Reporter

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