Note: Dr. David G. Bronner is the CEO of the Alabama Retirement System, which manages pensions for, both, state employees and public school teachers. The system’s assets include buildings in New York (Manhattan), Mobile, AL and Montgomery, AL, golf courses and resorts, newspapers, a cable-TV network and stocks. The fund is currently valued at $28 billion.  Minor edits have been made.

April 4, 2015

Up in lights — for mental health awareness month?


Ted Burnett

Dr. Bronner,

May is national mental health awareness month. In the spirit of the colorful artist Vincent Van Gogh and so many others who suffered from bipolar disorder, depression or schizophrenia (and continue to suffer), could we light up the RSA’s properties, in downtown Mobile, for some portion or all of the month? As you know, there’s a strong link between mental illness and talent between achievement and discovery — in the arts, film, literature, math, music, poetry, politics, science, television, theater…

Famous people with mental illness include: Abraham Lincoln, Virginia Woolf, Lionel Aldridge, Eugene O’Neill, Ludwig van Beethoven, Gaetano Donizetti, Robert Schumann, Leo Tolstoy, Vaslov Nijinsky, John Keats, Tennessee Williams, Vincent Van Gogh, Isaac Newton, Ernest Hemingway, Sylvia Plath, Michelangelo, Winston Churchill, Vivien Leigh, Jimmy Piersall, Patty Duke, Charles Dickens…

In the past year, I’ve lost two friends to suicide who live in the Mobile area. This isn’t an individual, isolated struggle, but instead proof of a community that’s suffering. The stigma of mental illness needs to end so those suffering from it can seek the necessary help to turn their lives around. Van Gogh used a lot of color in his paintings, let’s see if the RSA can reflect that. Thanks for your consideration.



NAMI — famous people with mental illness,

Van Gogh, Vincent — Fishing Boats on Beach

Van Gogh, Vincent — Starry Light Over the Rhone (1888)

Van Gogh, Vincent — Wheatfield with Crows (1890)

Ted Burnett
500 Lincoln St. B-105
Daphne, AL 36526 USA
C: 251-709-0280

Question everything.