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Montgomery, AL – The Council on Substance Abuse-NCADD (COSA-NCADD) and Alabama State University (ASU) Suicide Awareness and Prevention Program hosted a Mental Health Awareness, Depression, and Suicide Forum on September 22, 2016 at the John L. Buskey Auditorium on the campus of ASU. With September being recognized as National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, this forum was designed to bring awareness to college students so that they can learn about mental illness and mental health strategies.

Hakeem Rahim, President and CEO of I Am Acceptance, Inc. was the guest speaker for the event. He talked to students about what a mental illness is and the different stereotypes and stigmas associated with it which include being crazy, incapable, and unstable. “Mental illness is an illness of the brain that impacts the way you think and feel” Rahim said. “People don’t want to tell others about a mental illness because of shame and stigma.”

Mr. Rahim also showed a presentation of several college students who were brave enough to share their personal journeys with depression and anxiety. According to research from the National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI), 40% of college students with diagnosable mental health conditions did not seek help while 64% of young adults are no longer in school because of mental health indications.

Research also suggests that anxiety is the most common form of mental illness. Mr. Rahim explained that anxiety has cognitive effects to include racing thoughts, sleep deprivation, and overreacting. He also said that the most common types of anxiety are Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and Panic Disorder.

Depression is another common form on mental illness. National research shows that 36.4 million college students are affected by depression. “The ultimate goal is to lead others to mental wellness” Mr. Rahim expressed. “We can help by listening and assisting them in getting the help they need”.

Mr. Rahim also talked about the effects of suicide on youth. Research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death for youth aged between 15-24 years old.

The forum concluded with Mr. Rahim talking about his journey with mental illness. He shared how he suffered from depression while a student at Harvard University. His breaking point occurred during his sophomore year. While sitting inside a car with friends he thought the car’s engine was speaking to him. Mr. Rahim was soon admitted into a psychiatric hospital and diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder I.

Since then Mr. Rahim rose from struggling with illness in college to become a leading mental health advocate. He has shared his journey with over 30,000 college, high school, and middle school students. This fall he launched the “I AM Acceptance College Tour Campaign, a 36 college campus tour designed to destigmatize mental illness and empower college students to take full control of their mental health.

I Am Acceptance, Inc. is a 501 c 3 non-profit committed to ensuring mental health wellness for all. For more information about the I AM Acceptance College Tour Campaign visit

The mission of COSA-NCADD is to “reduce the incidence and prevalence of the disease of alcoholism, other drug addiction diseases, and related problems.” For more information call 334-262-1629 or visit

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