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Putting A Face On Bipolarism

High school students learn about mental health

Students attenting health education classes at Garden City High School listened intently as Hakeem Rahim from the National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI) shared his personal journey with  mental health issues during his recent presentation, “Let’s Talk Mental Illness.”

Hakeem was the first African-American male valedictorian in Uniondale High School. During his freshman year at Harvard University, he experienced his first anxiety attack, and his struggle with mental health issues began. Ultimately, Rahim graduated cum laude from Harvard and continued on to achieve a Masters of Education from Teacher’s College, Columbia University.

During his presentation, the Ivy League alum raised awareness about mental illness and the stigma that goes along with it. He talked about his journey to bring “awareness to students to help them speak out and understand that mental illness can affect anyone, anywhere,” said health teacher Jennifer Soper.

“It has been 13 years since my diagnosis and 15 years since my journey with mental illness began,” Rahim explained. “I have embraced and integrated bipolar disorder as part of my life. Mental health awareness and advocacy, and mental illness education have become part of my vocation. Currently, I am NAMI Queens/Nassau’s Let’s Talk Mental Illness presenter. Through the presentation, I have shared my experience with bipolar disorder and provided much needed awareness to over 2,000 high school and middle school students at 17 schools throughout Nassau County.”