Palm Health Foundation wants to put Palm Beach County on the map as a national leader in brain health advancement. Our efforts include promoting better brain health for our residents through the Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) program. MHFA teaches members of the public how to identify and help a person who is experiencing a mental health crisis.
Since 2018, hundreds of residents have taken the training and now have the tools to help a neighbor in need. Palm Health Foundation plans to continue providing this life saving program to our community in partnership with Florida Blue Foundation, which helps fund MHFA, Alpert Jewish Family Service, which administers it, and you.
Freslaine St. Louis is among those whose lives have been changed by the MHFA program, and in turn, she is changing others’. She was among the first in the county to become a MHFA instructor for Haitian Creole speaking residents, and is breaking down barriers within the Haitian community around mental health. Here's her story:
What do the words "mental health" mean to you?
When you hear them, do they make you uncomfortable? Are they only used for people with severe illnesses like schizophrenia? Is it a subject that is silenced to avoid embarrassment?
For so many in the Haitian community where I was raised, the answer is yes to all of these questions.
While many other people and cultures approach mental health with fear and misunderstanding, the stakes were too high for my community to avoid the subject any longer.
As a youth minister, I saw first-hand how quickly and easily children and teens with anxiety and stress could turn to substance abuse. I knew we couldn’t be passive. We had to have difficult conversations, or risk losing them.
Thanks to the foundation’s deep support of brain health, I became one of the first Haitian Creole speaking trainers in Palm Beach County for Mental Health First Aid, a nationally renowned eight-hour course that gives people the skills to help someone who is developing a mental health problem or experiencing a mental health crisis.
That was just the first step to removing the stigma of mental health in the Haitian community. But it was a vitally important one.
I used my Mental Health First Aid training to educate parents that the everyday stress and challenges we all feel are mental health. There was resistance at first, but I persevered. I am now helping them learn how to communicate and engage more with their children. Most importantly, I am sharing how to identify, understand and respond to signs of mental illnesses and substance use disorders among their children.
Without Palm Health Foundation and believers like you, our children would be at risk. Please donate to support innovative solutions to health in Palm Beach County.
Your donation of any amount to Palm Health Foundation will help grow our impactful work.
100% of your contribution stays in Palm Beach County to better health in our community.
The foundation and its supporters believe, as I do, that our children’s lives are in all of our hands. With their help, we are doing so much more than providing mental health education. We are creating a movement. Mental Health First Aid in the Haitian community has grown through word of mouth as parents realize what mental health really is and why it is so important to understand and recognize—for their children and for themselves. Parents now come to me asking for help—they are no longer afraid.
My story is just one of many that has been made possible thanks to the generosity of those who donate to Palm Health Foundation. There are scores of others who would tell you how lives have been changed, health has improved, and communities have become stronger thanks to their innovative approach to health solutions—from grass roots initiatives like mine to impacting healthcare systems that affect us all.
Your gift will ensure we continue to reach the people who need our help the most. Those who are at risk. Those who can only be reached by the trusted voices of their own communities. And those who, like me, work together with Palm Health Foundation to lead change for better health now and for generations to come. I invite you to do the same.
Yours in good health,
“We are a firm believer in supporting residents like Freslaine to lead health initiatives in their own communities. They know better than anyone what resources are needed and the best approaches to deliver them to create change. Join us to create an even deeper local impact.”
- Patrick McNamara, Palm Health Foundation President and CEO
The Mental Health First Aid program is brought to the Palm Beach County community through the efforst of Palm Health Foundation and these partners:
For more ways to donate or to learn more about partnering with Palm Health Foundation, please contact: