Denton health group breaks down stigmas behind mental health

Denton health group breaks down stigmas behind mental health

Denton health group breaks down stigmas behind mental health
June 15
11:00 2018

In a piece titled “Mind Noise,” Summer Grady used her art to say what her voice could not.

Grady, a recent graduate of Braswell High school, suffers from anxiety and depression and used her water color painting to show an image of a sinister looking brain yelling through a megaphone to yell at a small, defenseless person.

“I myself struggle with anxiety and a little bit of depression,”  Grady said. “Often I feel like my brain is yelling at me, and I feel like I can’t really escape it. I think a lot of people feel the same way.”

“Mind Noise” and 19 other pieces like it were shown in a mental health awareness event titled “Flight to Freedom” in front of the Denton County Courthouse in May. As part of Mental Health month in Denton, more than 20 mental health organizations participated in the event.

The event was organized by the Wellness Alliance for Total Children’s Health or WATCH, a coalition of Denton mental health care providers coordinating in order to support children’s mental health run by Cook Children’s Medical Center.

The primary focus of the event was to break down the stigma of mental health, increase awareness among the community and make people feel comfortable in speaking about mental health issues that bother them.

By holding the event in the square and providing games and literature that speaks about feelings and mental health, the community’s mental health care providers intended to open the conversation to everyone and get the public speaking openly.

“We want to make sure that everyone in the community recognizes the importance of mental health to everyone,” said Courtney Barnard, coordinator of community health outreach at Cook Children’s Hospital.

Grady’s piece was one of the winners of the “My Feelings Are a Work of Art” contest held at the event. Out of 78 entries, split across age categories, 19 were selected as winners, including Grady’s. They each received a $25 gift card and a personal invitation for them and their families to come to the event.

“Across the entire age spectrum of entries, its amazing to see how these children from even the 5 year olds, how they can really express their feelings through the art and through literature,” said Tianna Gooden, part of Gooden Counseling and the chair of WATCH.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 50 percent of chronic mental illness begins before the age of 14, and despite treatment, there are long delays between the first appearance of symptoms and when people get help. To address this, WATCH’s website says they aim to promote empathy, kindness and compassion in children.

“[Those skills are] going to protect them against many potential challenges that come their way,” Barnard said. “They’ll be able to cope with it.”

While the event primarily focused on children’s mental health, members of WATCH assert that everybody benefits from increased awareness.

For Grady who is planning on attending Collin College in the fall to study Graphic Design, the effort to break down the stigma has some good signs.

“I was really happy when I went to the square that day.” Said Grady, “I saw that there’s so many people around that understand and can help. I felt like it was a really beautiful thing because all these people are coming together and talking about it. They didn’t make it dark and awkward. It really made me feel a lot better. When you’re really upset, you feel like there’s not any way out, but there is. There’s these people to talk to, and they’re right here in Denton.”

Featured Image: Alex Reed (right) and her niece Bryley Corbin (Right) write letters to those in hospitals. These letters are intended to encourage people and share love. Josh Jamison

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Matias Masson

Matias Masson

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1 Comment

  1. Harold A Maio
    Harold A Maio June 15, 21:17

    —-Denton health group breaks down stigmas behind mental health

    Better yet students, let’s stop embracing those who say there is one !

    Reply to this comment

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