Hakeem Rahim from the National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI) recently shared his personal journey with mental health issues when he presented “Let's Talk Mental Illness” to health education classes at Garden City High School.
Hakeem was Uniondale High School's first African American male valedictorian. 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 Master's of education from Teacher’s College, Columbia University, according to a district press release.
During his presentation, Hakeem 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,” according to Garden City High School health and physical education teacher Jennifer Soper.
“It has been 13 years since my diagnosis and 15 years since my journey with mental illness began. 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," Rahim said.
"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.”