Mecklenburg Countys MeckLINK Behavioral Healthcare is joining other Charlotte-region mental health agencies to host a Thursday event aimed at reducing the stigma of seeking treatment.
The event, which starts at 11 a.m. at four sites in uptown Charlotte, is part of a national dialogue on mental health urged by President Barack Obama after tragic events in U.S. cities like Boston, Newtown, Conn., and the Navy Yard in Washington.
In those events, assailants with mental health issues killed multiple victims.
So MeckLINK, the Mental Health Association of Central Carolina, Make It Work and National Alliance on Mental Illness-North Carolina have banned together to push the message that mental illness is treatable.
Stigma is the Number One reason people do not seek treatment, said Ellis Fields, executive director of the Mental Health Association. But if we can remove that stigma, more people will feel comfortable finding help to recover and reach their goals.
Working with Charlotte Center City Partners, the agencies are set to hold simultaneous events at four venues scattered around uptown from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Each site will be manned by volunteers urging the same message: take the pledge to end the stigma.
At EpiCentre at 11 a.m., Charlotte Mayor Patsy Kinsey and County Commission Chair Pat Cotham will launch the Take the Pledge public service announcement without sound. The PSA with sound will premiere on large TV screens outside the NASCAR Hall of Fame every 15 minutes during the event.
From 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., therell be a flash mob dance at Trade and Tryon streets, designed to surprise the lunch crowd and urge them to take the pledge. Make It Work, a ride-share and mentoring charity that helps people with mental health issues get to work, is teaming with Chiquita to use bananas to promote the Split the Ride social media campaign.
Throughout the event, the countys social services department will show several closed-caption videos.
MeckLINK, which oversees federal Medicaid money for mental health services, also works to educate the public about mental illness, intellectual developmental disabilities and substance abuse.
We felt this was a creative, fun and educational way to engage the community, offer solutions for Mecklenburg County residents and together roar against the stigma, said Melissa Marshburn, a MeckLINK communications specialist.
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