Mental Health Advocate Hakeem Rahim Gives Keynote Wellness Presentation

On Tuesday, April 23, Choate Rosemary Hall welcomed author, educator, spoken word artist, and mental health advocate Hakeem Rahim, Ed.M., M.A., as speaker at an all-school meeting. Rahim graduated with a BA in psychology from Harvard University and with dual master's degrees from Columbia University. He is President and CEO of I Am Acceptance, Inc and founder and CEO of Live Breathe LLC, organizations that strive to destigmatize mental illness and empower students to take control of their mental health.

In his "Breaking Through Stigma" presentation during School Meeting, and later during a student workshop, Rahim shared his own experiences with mental health, discussing his diagnosis of bipolar disorder when he was in college. His thoughtful and honest remarks were reinforced by humor and understanding, emphasizing that mental illness in not abnormal and it does not define those who live with it. Sharing his own mantra with students, Rahim says "Where I am is not who I am."He also focused on common stereotypes surrounding mental illness, noting that it can affect anyone.

He also explained that talking about mental illness helps to dispel stereotypes, while also giving us a common language to better communicate how mental illness is experienced. This ultimately creates a network of support, empowering individuals to reach out to their peers and get help.

Rahim met with students in the afternoon for an interactive workshop to dive deeper into the meaning of acceptance and its implications for better mental health.

His workshop coincided with All-School Wellness Time, when faculty and students take a break from their regular routine for endeavors that lead to better personal self-care. Most wellness activities are aimed at exploring physical, mental, emotional, spiritual and intellectual wellness. These Wellness workshops take place once per term at the end of the school day, both on- and off-campus. Tuesday's activities included meditation, trivia, baking, yoga, the removal of invasive species, and a game of Capture the Flag.