Posted by Bonnie Black (Plattsburgh)

Rotary's Action Group on Mental Health Initiatives was founded by our late PDGKen LeFrancois in November of 2015 with Dr. Geetha Jayaram as Vice-Chair and me as Secretary.  With the untimely passing of Ken, I was selected Chair and we have grown to close to 100 members since we officially organized in May of 2016.
Many might ask why a Mental Health Action Group would fall under Disease Prevention & Treatment.
We need to understand that the World Health Organization and the CDC recognize Mental Illness as a brain disease.  The human brain is a vital organ and, just like any other in our body, there are instances where it doesn't function at its optimum.  We call these mental illnesses.  
One of the Global Grants Dr. Geetha Jayaram has coached recently is Supreme Aim with a focus on preventing suicide in the country of Lithuania which is a District unto itself.  Entering its third year, the results are impressive in reducing the rate of suicide which began as 9 times the rate of other EU countries.
Another Global Grant being assessed this month in Nigeria is the implementation of Adolescent Wellness/Peer Leadership using Interact students to education their peers on depression education and suicide prevention.  An engaged Rotary club is a key - one that breaks the stigma of mental illness by learning about it and talking about it.
How might you or your club engage in this area of focus?  Start out with a District grant to gain experience with a mental health program in your community and grow in a few years to partnering in a Global Grant.
We only have one brain - let's learn more about it and prevent brain disease and treat this magnificent organ we underappreciate in many ways.