The Vera French Community Mental Health Center celebrated World Mental Health Day on Wednesday, October 10, 2018.
World Mental Health Day was observed for the first time in 1992 at the initiative of the World Mental Health Federation. It is a day celebrated for global mental health education, awareness and advocacy against social stigma. Thousands of supporters will gather during this annual awareness day to bring attention to mental illness and its effects on people’s lives worldwide.
This year, Vera French Community Mental Health Center had a special celebration outside their Center location on West Central Park Drive. Shelby Tracy, Drumline Instructor at North, and Courtney Long, Drumline and Assistant Band Director at West, attended for a 30 minute performance by North and West drumline students.
Tracy approached the Vera French Foundation with the opportunity earlier this year, and the group quickly began making plans to promote the campaign. A variety of apparel with the phrase, “Drum up awareness to beat the stigma” was offered for sale and one hundred percent of the proceeds benefitted Vera French children’s services. Those services include school based therapy, Rick’s House of Hope, and camp scholarships.
Vera French Foundation Executive Director, Jessica Malcheff, stated, “Raising awareness in a fun and upbeat way, like with this project, helps everyone to understand that this is ok to talk about mental health, we should be talking about it, and things are only going to get better if we do talk about it.”
While this is a collaborative effort between both the North and West High School drumline instructors, Tracy is excited for the whole community to engage in this project.
“This idea came to both Courtney Long and I after realizing the positive effect music, and especially the drumline, can have on everyone! The drumline is loud, proud, and a visible part of the band, and mental illness (and the stigma surrounding it) is often silenced and put to the side. Music, and especially this great group of kids we have on both drumlines, are motivated and wiling to use their talent to raise the sound level and bring an open dialogue and conversation about mental illness in effort to erase the negative stigma surrounding it! Our hope is that this project inspires others in the schools and around the community to have an open and positive dialogue about mental illness, and “BEAT” the stigma surrounding it.