Seong & David Brown – Sonoma County, CA
Seong and David Brown are a powerful advocate couple who are turning the grief of familial tragedy into steps for positive change for youth brain health care. Their brain health advocacy work started in response to their daughter Elizabeth’s struggles with depression and anxiety, and her related passing in May of 2018.
Elizabeth was a smart, caring and friendly teen who had a passion for writing and music. She was an accomplished musician who played the violin for the San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra. She entered college early at the age of 15, attending Bard College in Massachusetts where she participated in a semester abroad at Oxford in England. In addition to her studies and her friends, Elizabeth had a strong passion for helping others, having volunteered to support those less fortunate in Africa and Haiti.
Elizabeth’s depression and anxiety started during her second year in college and grew more severe through the early part of 2016. It was in 2016 when she first confided to her parents the brain health challenges she was having. Confident in their daughter’s resilience and strong character, that year, the Brown’s set forth seeking the brain health services they thought would alleviate their daughter’s struggles. At the same time, as proof to how caring Elizabeth was, influenced by her lived experience with a brain condition, Elizabeth started to volunteer, visiting Bay Area High Schools where she openly spoke about her own brain health challenges.
Unfortunately, during their efforts to help their daughter, the Brown’s experienced a healthcare system that they deemed as both chaotic and medieval. It was chaotic because the system provided minimal educational resources to them, did not share medical records between clinics, lacked proactive communication and lacked integration. It was medieval because old technologies were used and frequently the Browns faced medical personnel and providers who held tight to the stigma, often seeming to blame the Browns for their situation.
Sadly, as a result of her heightened brain health challenges, in January of 2018, Elizabeth attempted suicide that she survived but resulted in hypoxia caused by the deficiency of oxygen to her brain. For the next five months, Seong and David cared for Elizabeth in the bedroom she grew up in until she passed away in May of 2018.
Their personal experiences as well as their drive to not have another family go through what they did is what has motivated Seong and David Brown to create the brain health non-profit they now run. Named ‘The Elizabeth Morgan Brown Memorial Fund’ as a tribute to their daughter, the mission of their non-profit is to improve the lives of children and young adults suffering from brain illness, by addressing the stigma of brain illness and suicide through education and increased awareness. As part of their efforts and in response to the need for better youth-focused mental health services within their own community, the EMBMF is partnering with One Mind and our ASPIRe program to launch a Coordinated Specialty Care program in Sonoma County that will provide integrated, evidence-based gold-standard early care for youth who are experiencing the symptoms of early serious psychiatric illness. The Browns have already done amazing work toward procuring sponsorship funds to support this program.
As stated in the Facebook Live Brain Waves interview One Mind President Brandon Staglin had with Seong and David Brown on June 26th, the Brown’s chose to partner with One Mind because of the targeted focus of the ASPIRe program and the potential it has to expand nationally.
The Browns are still grieving the loss of Elizabeth. However, the conversations they are having through their non-profit and the work they are doing in her name are helping them to process this grief. Seong Brown stated that “Working together to help others who are struggling from brain health conditions like what our daughter experienced makes us feel like she’s still here doing what she loved to do”.
You can make a donation in support of the Elizabeth Morgan Brown Memorial Fund by selecting their name on our online donation interface.
To learn more about the EMBMF, please visit www.elizabethmorganbrown.org
To learn more about ASPIRe, please visit www.onemind.org/aspire/