Juarez tells Rotary about mental illness campaign

Published 5:25 pm Tuesday, December 8, 2015

The primary agenda at Tuesday’s Rotary program was devoted to the business of committee reports and plans for the year.

Prior to the start of the meeting, Erick Juarez, requested a brief guest time to speak to the club about his mental health project.

He began by announcing that one in four American adults suffer from mental health disorders each year. His main goal is to raise awareness of mental health issues while working to alleviate the stigma attached.

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The stigma leads to a negative cascade of effects, such as a lack of support and seeking treatment, social exclusion and discrimination.

He gave examples of the urgent need for attention to mental health issues by citing the recent rash of multiple shootings, veterans suffering from post traumatic stress syndrome, and those homeless individuals living on the streets.

He has established a “Go Fund Me” account with the goal of raising $2500 (at this point he has $1700 pledged) by January 6 to be donated to the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation, formerly known as the National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression. It is a non-profit that awards grants to those working to make discoveries in understanding the causes and improving the treatments of such mental disorders as depression, schizophrenia, anxiety disorder, autism, bipolar disorder, ADHD and obsessive-compulsive disorders.

He said over the past 25 years the BBRF has contributed more than $350 million worldwide to more than 4000 of the best scientists in the world.

Juarez is an avid distance runner and has a goal to qualify to run in the Boston Marathon.

Even though he has continued to run ever since his high school days of cross-country at BHS, he has failed to qualify for the run of his dreams. However, he said his love for running acquired a deeper meaning after witnessing the chaos of the Boston Marathon bombings firsthand while cheering on the finishers on April 15, 2013. He is ever more inspired to qualify for and run the 26.2 mile event.

He is currently training for the Jacksonville Bank Marathon to run January 3, 2016.

He concluded his remarks with “Stop the stigma. Keep the conversation going, and let’s help change mental illness as a sign of weakness into a badge of perseverance and strength.”