Broward Mental Health Summit – 12 September 2018

It took nearly eight months in planning.  It began with a handful of volunteers determined to do something about the mental health crisis befalling our community.  Sparked by the tragic shootings in Parkland – local citizens, business owners, civic leaders, mental healthcare providers and community organizers linked arms to form the first-ever Broward Mental Health Summit Committee.  Led by the strong organizational leadership of Juan Arias, Chairman of the Sheriff’s Foundation of Broward County, committee members quickly went to work.  All of us were entrusted to bring other “community partners” on board for this historic Summit, which would take place on Wednesday 12 of September, 2018.

“I want you guys to treat this as if you are promoting your own event…your own Summit” said Juan, lovingly referred to as “Captain JC” by his peers.  Thus hours upon hours of meetings, phone calls, soliticitations and scheduling of key paneled speakers later, the Broward Mental Health Summit became an event now synanymous with bringing the entire community of South Florida together for the betterment of mental health awareness.

Altogether, the outpouring of support was unprecedented.  There were two major Presenters (FPL and Wellsfargo), 22 Sponsors, and 30 Community Partners.  We successfully raised over $35k to benefit the Sherriff’s Foundation of Broward County.

The Summit was packed with informative panels, including candid discussions on addressing the mental health needs of five different populations: Law Enforcement, Elderly, Attorneys, Veterans and Youths.  Our Keynote Speaker was Michi Marshall, wife of football star, Brandon Marshall.  Her courageous revelation into the disease of mental illness that affected her family helped set the tone for the theme of the BMHS – our need as a society to eliminate stigma so that those suffering from mental illness can get the help they deserve without the fear of being ridiculed or catisgated.

We were proud to play a role in organizing the inaugural Broward Mental Health Summit.  It was a day of solidarity for those concerned about the state of mental health in our community.  Instead of merely talking, a group of us decided to do something about it.  We hope it is only the beginning…