Two decades after almost killing himself, 46 year old Francesco Bellafante is seated on a dais fifteen feet away from Dr. David Shulkin, the Secretary of Veteran Affairs, and 600 other leaders from the VA. He was invited to address the group at their Senior Leader Annual Business Meeting by Dr. Tracy Gaudet, the Executive Director of the Office of Patient-Centered Care and Cultural Transformation at the VHA. She and her team are working to transform how the VHA delivers healthcare, and she thought putting the person who wrote: ‘Mental Illness’ is a Harmfully Misleading Phrase That Causes Suffering by Design in front of the top brass of the VA could help.
Five years after graduating Magna Cum Laude, Phi Beta Kappa from Notre Dame, Francesco was the youngest Principal at a Wall Street IT consulting firm. Several weeks after seeing Good Will Hunting, Francesco was found unconscious, with a large bump on his head, inside of a running rental car that he’d transformed into a makeshift gas chamber. Francesco had a near death experience in the ambulance enroute to the Jersey City Medical center, and woke up a couple of days later in the ICU.
The former Wall Street quality assurance analyst is on a mission to: “change the world by changing the words that people use about ‘mental illness’” in service of halving the US suicide rate. Francesco’s 20+ year journey from suicidal near death experience to addressing a member of President Trump’s cabinet includes two visits to mental hospitals, two unauthorized visits to CIA headquarters, and a courtroom mini-drama orchestrated by someone committed to lampooning an improvable healthcare system.
Francesco believes that the “brand new greatest story ever told” that almost everyone is familiar with, but doesn’t understand, is about a man named Albert Einstein, @thedigitaljesus of our time, who left humanity an Unheralded Prescription for Peace.