Business Leaders Hear from Experts on Mental Health, First Responders with Help from FHE Health
Last Tuesday, the subject of mental health and first responders drew more than 50 women to a sold-out luncheon hosted by the Women’s Council of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Chamber of Commerce. The July 26 event, “From the Headlines to the Frontlines,” featured several distinguished speakers as part of a panel discussion:
- Sandra Cumper Boynton, DBH – Dr. Boynton is the executive director of NAMI Broward County and regularly shares her mental health expertise with the public.
- Laine Davis, MS, PsyD – Dr. Davis is a licensed psychologist with the national behavioral health provider FHE Health and works primarily with first responders through FHE Health’s Neuro Rehab program.
- Mirian “Bev” Perez – As CEO and Founder of the non-profit organization SHIELDUS, Perez is a tireless advocate for first responders and a peer recovery specialist in FHE Health’s “Shatterproof” program for first responders.
- Detective David Sarni – Now retired, Sarni served the NYPD during the years surrounding 9/11 and today teaches criminal justice as an adjunct professor at John Jay College.
Captain Ty Shaw-Williams of the Miramar Police Department moderated the discussion, largely attended by members of the business community.
Q&A with Women’s Council Event Chair Tracey Prescod
In the lead-up to the luncheon, we reached out to Women’s Council Event Chair Tracey Prescod, who is also the president of the nonprofit organization Bowtie Kids. During a short Q&A, Prescod offered the following backstory to Tuesday’s event and its theme of mental health and first responders.
Q: Why did you choose the topic of mental health for this event?
A: Mental health and wellness have become a key topic of discussion in the last few years as the weight of a global pandemic and civic unrest has tested people’s physical and psychological health. Even though this conversation has finally emerged in the public domain in various ways, there are still undercurrents of shame, guilt, judgment, and uncertainty around such a personal topic. And, even though this presents as an isolated personal issue, its impact reaches far beyond the privacy of our own homes.
Q: What were your objectives in organizing this luncheon?
A: As a committee, we wanted to focus on a meaningful topic and provide a depth of engagement and personal action that could last well beyond the luncheon. As the ideas around the table began to be put forward, mental health and wellness, in some capacity, emerged as our primary focus … We also wanted to have a conversation about mental health and wellness that highlights aspects that we don’t often discuss: the mental wellbeing of society and first responders, and how the causes and effects of mental illness affect those around us.
Q: What do you hope will be the impact of this luncheon?
A: We hope this conversation will spark new thoughts, catalyze further discussions, and shift perspectives that people can then take out into their circles of influence to continue creating safe and healthy spaces to have real results that impact us all.
FHE Health’s Role in Sponsoring, Organizing, and Providing Speakers
As a “Chairman Circle” member of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Chamber of Commerce—Chairman Circle signifies the highest level of Chamber of Commerce membership and involvement—FHE Health took a lead role in sponsoring and organizing the luncheon (in addition to providing speakers).
FHE Health Community Impact Coordinator Melissa Davis, who opened the event with introductory remarks, said afterwards that the advocacy luncheon was one of many ways that FHE is resourcing the local community on mental health and addiction issues. (Davis sits on the Board of Governors of the Women’s Council.)
Are you or a loved one struggling with a mental health issue? For information about treatment options in South Florida, contact Melissa Davis at FHE Health at 1-855-701-0748. (You can also contact FHE Health 24/7 from anywhere in the U.S. at 1-888-586-9798.)
If you’re experiencing a mental health crisis, call the NAMI HelpLine at 1-800-950-NAMI.