(2-20-17) I often feel as if I am preaching to the converted because many of the speeches that I give are to mental health or law enforcement groups. So I was especially thrilled last week to speak at an event that focused on more than mental health – the Lake Nona Impact Forum outside of Orlando, Florida. Many of the 250 “thought leaders” who attended were not familiar with the mess that our nation’s mental health system is in.
Sanjay Gupta, MD, Chief Medical Correspondent for CNN, moderated the panel that I was on with fellow mental health advocate Margaret Trudeau, the former wife of Pierre Trudeau, 15th Prime Minister of Canada and the mother of Justin Trudeau, 23rd Prime Minister of Canada; and with Dr. Andrew Nierenberg, Director of the Bipolar Clinic and Research Program at Massachusetts General Hospital and Professor of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School.
Ms. Trudeau’s description of her personal struggles with bipolar disorder was self-effacing, poignant and often funny. Best of all, her recollections came from her heart and deeply touched those fortunate enough to hear her. Of course, Dr. Nierenberg is one of the nation’s leading experts on treatment-resistant bipolar depression and the longitudinal course of mood disorders and he offered easy to understand explanations to difficult medical problems.
All three of us were invited to the event because of Muffy Walker, one of the founders of the International Bipolar Foundation and one of my favorite examples of an individual who decided to put her creative talents to use by helping found and finance a non-profit organization that calls attention to bipolar disorder and funds research. (Read her inspirational story here.)