Convocation addresses common misconceptions surrounding mental illness

January 29, 2019
By Kou Okada '22

Poet and educator Hakeem Rahim will present Carleton College’s weekly convocation on Friday, February 1 from 10:50 to 11:50 a.m. in the Skinner Memorial Chapel. In his presentation, Hakeem will address the misconceptions and stigma surrounding mental health in a talk entitled, “Let’s Talk About Mental Illness.”

Carleton convocations are free and open to the public.

“I am not my meds nor my doctor appointments. I am not bipolar – I am acceptance, I am Hakeem Rahim.”

After graduating high school as the first African-American male valedictorian in his school’s history, Rahim entered Harvard University when he was only 17. It was during his time at Harvard when he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Although battling with mental illness, Rahim finished his BA in psychology from Harvard and immediately went on to Teacher’s College at Columbia University, earning two master's degrees.

In 2012 Rahim began openly sharing his 17-year journey with mental illness. He joined the National Alliance on Mental Illness’ In Our Own Voice Program and a year later, he began presenting in schools as the NAMI Queens/Nassau Let’s Talk Mental Illness ™ presenter. In 2017, Rahim launched his own school-based program, Breaking Through Stigma: The Highs and Lows of Mental Health.

Rahim has testified in front of the Senate and the House of Representatives, been featured in USA Today, and has shared his journey with over 50,000 college, high school, and middle school students at more than 150 educational institutions.

“Through my work, I am committed to transforming the stigma and shame around mental illness and to creating communities of wellness, acceptance and joy,” he says. Learn more on Rahim's website.

This African American Heritage Month Convocation is sponsored by the Office of Intercultural and International Life, in partnership with the Office of Health Promotion. For more information, including disability accommodations, call (507) 222-4308. The Skinner Memorial Chapel is located at First and Winona Streets in Northfield.