Mental Health Fair Brings Awareness, Breaks Stigma

Local non-profits teamed up to focus on mental health.

Elevate Climbing and Fitness in Traverse City held a mental health fair Tuesday. The fair included vendors from Child and Family Services along with the National Alliance on Mental Health Illness and Mental Wellness Counseling.

Event organizers and vendors say they want to bring awareness to mental health. The Operations Director for the National Alliance on Mental Illness, Rick Coates, says awareness is needed.

“Mental illness is impacting our schools, it’s impacting our jails, it’s impacting our hospitals, it’s impacting our businesses. In my opinion, it’s the number one health crisis we have in our country and in our community,” Coates claims.

According to the World Health Organization the pandemic saw a 25% increase in people with anxiety and depression worldwide. The Co-Owner of Elevate in Traverse City, Kevin Vlach, says they hope to remove the stigma surrounding mental health.

“The goal is to help de-stigmatize therapy in general, but provide a space for people to congregate. Talk about it, learn about the services that are available for them,” Vlach says.

People in attendance were able to speak with vendors about the services that they provide. The event featuredMental Health Fair 1st informational guests including workshops to help people understand and deal with mental health struggles. The Owner of Mental Wellness Counseling in Traverse City, Nicole Ball, says there is a clear need for mental health.

“Having events like this gives people the opportunity to not only learn about the services that are available in your area, but also to come together to support the need for mental health services,” Ball explains.

According to the American Psychological Association, 84% of psychologists who treat anxiety disorders reported seeing an increase in demand for anxiety treatment. Additionally, 72% of psychologists who treat depressive orders have seen an increase in people seeking their services.

Mental Health Fair 3rd“Since COVID, obviously the need for mental health services has grown, but also I feel like the stigma for mental health has really gone down,” Ball says. “People are more willing to talk about mental health. People are more willing to talk about their need for mental health and they are more willing to reach out for mental health service.”

The pandemic has taken it’s toll on people’s mental health. Organizers and vendors say they hope the fair helped ensure people get the help they need.

“Events like this help to spread the word within the community. I really feel like this is a springboard. I hope we’re able to do something like this every week to be honest with you,” Coates chuckles.

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