Bo's Effort seeks to assemble community resources to break the stigma of mental illness through education and guidance. We look to fund initiatives that offer awareness to families and individuals seeking to manage their illnesses and live healthy and productive lives. Our cause is a big one. We ask for your understanding. Your support. Your love. Your guidance. Your concern. Your healing. Not only for our family, but for families across the world.

Bo's Effort was founded in 2015, by John, Jill, Katie and Johnny DePaola, in honor of our son and brother Bo DePaola, who passed away on May 23, 2015 from an accidental overdose. He was 20 years old. Sweet. Funny. Full of joy. He had an infectious smile that lit up the room. 

Bo was also diagnosed with bipolar disorder, but he didn’t know—and neither did we—until he was 19. We weren’t the only ones in the dark. His school teachers didn’t know. His coaches didn’t know. His extended family didn’t know.

And if someone had known something was off, they probably wouldn’t have said a word. Why?

Simple. Mental illness comes with so many stigmas that people rarely talk about their experiences around it. It’s rarely spoken about at all, and almost never in a positive light. Mental illness is categorized by judgment, shame, misunderstanding, confusion and a lot of gray areas. With mental illness, it’s rarely black or white, which makes illnesses like bipolar disorder so difficult to diagnose.

This is what Bo’s Effort aims to change. We want to band together to assemble community resources to break the stigma of mental illness through education and guidance. 

For many young men and women, bipolar disorder often shows up between late teens and mid-twenties. Some experience their first symptoms during childhood, while others develop symptoms later in life, seemingly out of nowhere. It’s confusing, frustrating and often terrifying for the person and his or her family.

For young people with mental illness, substance abuse often comes into play, as they attempt to self-medicate and find a solution. This can be part of the genetic vulnerability model. If a person has a genetic predisposition to mental illness, substances can serve as a chemical balance to those neurotransmitters, for instance dopamine and serotonin.

However, this only furthers the negative stigmas. Young people with mental illnesses often find their way to rehab, only to be told they are dual-diagnosis and there are few resources to help.

As Bo always lightened up the day, Bo's Effort will soften the stigmas that surround mental illness to open the dialogue once and for all.

(L-R) Johnny, Tucker, John, Jill, Katie and Bo

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