#SayILoveYou: The Dr. Brandt Foundation at The Lab Miami

The Dr. Brandt Foundation seeks to spread awareness about suicide and mental health by sparking open conversations to help break down the stigma surrounding mental illness. After the suicide of dermatologist and skincare line founder Dr. Fredric Brandt, the Dr. Brandt foundation was created with the aim of suicide prevention. The #SayILoveYou campaign approaches issues of mental health with love and compassion, encouraging open and honest dialogue about mental illness. In addition to seeking to destroy the stigma that surrounds mental health, the Dr. Brandt foundation provides creative therapeutic outlets. The foundation promotes art as a healing form of therapy, where individuals are able to express themselves and create while healing from trauma. Events such as the Say I Love You Speaker Series, hosted on June 3rd at The LAB Miami, demonstrate the foundation’s mission of breaking down the stigma surrounding mental illness.

The Say I Love You Speaker Series hosted at the Lab featured a panel of four speakers who each shared their personal experiences with mental health. While panelists Rachel Ringwood, Laurie Pepe, Nicholas Emeigh and Rohan Sharma each described unique stories about how mental illness has impacted their lives, they all shared one thing in common: a passion for mental health advocacy. As pointed out by Laurie Pepe, an advocate for her daughter, society views mental health in an entirely separate realm from the physical. As she described it, “You wouldn’t walk around on a broken leg…”. Why treat mental health differently? The lack of education on the topic of mental illness combined with its ongoing stigmatization prevents individuals from seeking out the help that they need. Panels such as The Say I Love You Speaker Series illustrates the power of storytelling as a means of spreading awareness about mental health and effectively destroying the stigma.

In discussing their struggles with mental illness, the panelists emphasized the importance of art and creativity as therapeutic outlets. From freestyling to baking cakes of elaborate designs, the panelists discussed how creativity served as an important means of relief and expression. As described by Rohan Sharma, “If you are not free in your mind, you can never be free in your life.” Although each panelist’s experience with mental illness was unique, they all demonstrated the core message of the #SayILoveYouCampaign by emphasizing the need for love and compassion in the wake of our current mental health crisis.

Written by Isabelle Blatt