“Spread a smile every day. You may not even know what you’re doing, but you may save someone’s life.”
These powerful words were delivered by keynote speaker Kevin Hines at the Arapahoe/Douglas Mental Health Network’s 13th Annual Mental Health Benefit Luncheon on May 9. Hines is not only a powerful speaker advocating for the importance of mental health, but he’s also only only one of 34 people to survive a suicide attempt off the Golden Gate Bridge.
Doors opened at 11:00am for a brief reception and an opportunity to network with local business professionals, corporate sponsors and mental health advocates. The luncheon program promptly started at 11:30am with a decadent lunch, uplifting award ceremony, and keynote speech given by Kevin Hines.
Hines described his childhood and the difficulty he had as a teenager with manic depression, more commonly known as bipolar disorder. He described the auditory and visual hallucinations that would constantly tell him that he needed to die, which drove him to his attempt off the Golden Gate in 2000 when he was only 19 years old. Although the fall broke him physically, his spirit only became stronger. Shortly following his release from the hospital, a priest asked him to speak to a class about his story, and Hines has been speaking publicly since, hoping he can make an impact and help people live mentally well.
Dave Aguilera, meteorologist and reporter for CBS Denver, emceed the event. In addition to emceeing numerous events for non-profits groups throughout the year, Dave speaks to hundreds of elementary school students around the area, and is on the board of directors for the Learning Source, a non-profit literacy group.
Hand-painted watering cans were sold as a fundraiser to benefit the Network.
The Arapahoe/Douglas Mental Health Network is an all-inclusive resource for mental and behavioral health, with clients from struggling with everyday troubles to individuals with severe and persistent mental illness. Their care is accessible to everyone, despite economic status. The professionals on staff not only help and treat patients, but are also active in the community with outreach and educational events helping to identify signs of mental illness to help protect those who may not be able to speak up.
In addition to the work they do in office, Executive Director and CEO Joan DiMaria states that in the wake of the tragedy at Arapahoe High School, the Network has committed more than 800 hours of mental health disaster response to the recovery of those affected.