Mental Health Matters Takes Center Stage


More than 1,000 backpacks displayed around the lawn at the State Capitol served as a reminder of the many young lives lost to suicide each year.

The solemn display – some with photos of college students who have taken their lives – helped set the stage for the annual Mental Health Matters Day at the Capitol May 23. The event is sponsored in part by the California Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission in recognition of Mental Health Awareness Month.

Paul Gilmartin, host of the Mental Illness Happy Hour podcast, served as emcee. Becky Fein, program director for Send Silence Packing, and Nadia Ghaffari, founder of TeenzTalk spoke at the event, which also featured Darryl McDaniels of the Run-DMC hip hop group as keynote speaker.

McDaniels discussed his struggles with mental illness — fear of abandonment, suicidal thoughts, and alcoholism — sometimes breaking into rap.