Posted on September 30th, 2011 | No Comments »
The answer is a recent whirlwind trip to California for Joan Reed, operations director of the school-based program in behavioral care services at Community Health Network. Reed was a guest of Metta World Peace, the Los Angeles Lakers basketball star formerly known as Ron Artest, at a press conference announcing a series of donations made on his behalf in support of mental health programs across the country. Community Health Network Foundation was one of eight behavioral health charity recipients of the $299,000 proceeds raised after World Peace raffled off his NBA 2010 championship ring last year. World Peace credits his fans, saying it was them who made this possible.
Each of the recipient organizations had personal meaning to the former Pacer star. Notably, one location was in his hometown of Queens, New York, where he first received mental health services as a child for anger issues. At the start of the conference, World Peace briefly discussed his own struggles with mental health.
Reed recounts, “The most important thing for me was to hear his story. We spent two hours with him at breakfast, where he told us how mental health has played an important role for him throughout his life.”
As reported by Los Angeles Times following the press conference, Metta World Peace said, “When I was 13, our house burned down and my mom and dad separated, and from then on I was really agitated and started getting in a lot of trouble. My mom helped me out. She had me see a counselor because she realized I was having problems and I was going through a lot. He helped me a lot. Without him, I don’t know where I’d be.”
He went on to say, “We have a big problem right here in America with mental health, from little boys not understanding what it takes to be a good dad or be a good older brother or a role model — to violence.”
Impressed by his focus and genuine interest in the various organizations he benefited, Reed characterized the superstar as “someone who really had some rough spots in life and got some help and wanted to give back.” As for his less than savory reputation from the past, Reed says she saw none of that public persona. “He was very focused. He asked questions about our agencies and was interested to learn what our plans were.”
The night before the press conference, Reed received VIP access as a guest at a live taping of “Dancing with the Stars” to root for World Peace, a competitor in the dance competition. With seats on the main floor about four rows back from the stage, Reed thoroughly enjoyed her behind-the-scenes experience.
Regarding the check she received on behalf of Community Health Network Foundation and the school-based program in behavioral care services, Reed says, “Funds like these allow us to treat students in my world who may not have another payor. Or, it could be that we might be able to offer services that wouldn’t normally be covered.”
“One of the important things was not only what the money would do for students, but that the money came from a celebrity…and not just any celebrity, but one who is willing to speak on the topic based on personal experience and help raise awareness.” She goes on to say that this extended “gift” of awareness will help alleviate the stigma that is often associated with getting treatment for behavioral health.