Since tragedy touched her family, Concept Rehab’s Charlene Bohlender has been a passionate advocate for mental health awareness and suicide prevention.
Charlene Bohlender has been a dedicated COTA for Concept Rehab since 1997. She is now the newest board member of Free the Mind, Anchor the Soul—a local nonprofit organization focused on bringing awareness to mental health disorders and helping to break the stigma attached to mental health in West Milton, Ohio and the surrounding communities.
Charlene is a survivor of suicide loss.
On August 23, 2015, Charlene’s family changed forever when her 16-year-old grandson, Bryce, took his life. Charlene’s daughter had just dropped Bryce’s sister off at college when they came home to a parent’s worst nightmare. Without consulting his family, Bryce had stopped taking his anti-anxiety medication, which caused him to quickly cycle into depression and he took his life the day before school started.
That day the family knew their lives had been changed forever.
Charlene’s family never wants anyone to experience the painful loss that they did, so they have dedicated their time to bringing hope to those suffering with mental illness along with education for suicide prevention.
“I vowed to do everything in my power to break the stigma of mental illness, alert parents and teachers to the warning signs of teen suicide and ensure that no other parent had to experience the terrible day.”
Today, Charlene serves as board member of Free the Mind/Anchor the Soul Inc. and is a certified instructor for Youth Mental Health First Aid. Charlene gets the chance to talk to adults who work with the youth about how to identify mental health disorders, common signs of depression, eating disorders, and many others along with how to connect with professional help.
Youth Mental Health First-Aid
Why is this so important?
“There are too many statistics out there showing the detrimental impact of living with a mental illness.”
1 out of 5 teens have a mental health illness, but only 20% of them will get help
Suicide is the second leading cause of death for those between the ages of 15 and 24
Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States
For every death there are an estimated 25 attempted suicides
Of those who take their life, 90% have a diagnosable mental illness
“Suicide is something that people don’t know how to talk about or what to think.”
Free the Mind/Anchor the Soul
Free the Mind/Anchor the Soul is committed to breaking the stigma on mental health by bringing awareness through their annual 5k, community involvement, and supporting educational efforts to equip youth and those working directly with them, in suicide prevention and promoting mental health awareness.
Bryce was very active in cross country and track and field. He even got second in state for pole vaulting. His love for running, as well as fireworks, sparked the committee to develop its annual Free the Mind/Anchor the Soul 5K Run/Walk held on July 4 in West Milton, Ohio. Their very first 5K reached an attendance of 324 participants and has progressively increased each year. The committee is hoping to reach over 500 participants this year.
Register today to be a participant in the annual 5K and help their committee raise awareness for mental illness and suicide prevention.
Your Story Matters.
Your Life Matters.
Everyone has a story that guides their path. For Charlene she says this is not the path she would choose, but rather she feels compelled to get involved because it is so needed.
“I hope that maybe I can help other families not have to go through the devastation we have had.”
- Charlene Bohlender
Just as she did during her time as an Occupational Therapy Assistant with Concept Rehab, Charlene continues to use her passions to help individuals, now the youth, develop the skills and mindset needed to live their life to the fullest.
“Char was my first mentor in Occupational Therapy at CRI. She demonstrated compassion and technical knowledge with every patient encounter. Her love of people and caring for individuals is a gift she is extending to Free the Mind/Anchor the Soul Inc.”
– Kim Saylor, VP of Business Development at Concept Rehab.
Interested in contributing to the cause? Make a donation to Free the Mind/Anchor the Soul Inc. here.
WHAT'S YOUR STORY?
Have you worked for or with Concept Rehab? Do you have a story, unique interest, or hobby that you want to share? If so, submit your story at the link below!