Breaking stigma tied to mental health over coffee

Public health department kicks off series of mental health talks at Liberty Coffee Haus


May marked the beginning of Mental Health Awareness Month. One in five adults in the United States will experience a mental health crisis this year. That’s more than 46 million people that already face, or will be facing, the stigma of mental illness, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

On Thursday May 16th, beginning at 6:30 p.m., Liberty Coffee Haus (206 N. Liberty) will be hosting “Breaking the Stigma: Telling My Story,” a speak-out event, that aims to bring awareness to mental health by having five community members share their stories.

Be Well Victoria, a Hogg Foundation-funded project part of the the Victoria County Public Health Department, focuses on the mental health and well-being of Victoria community members. Jodi Sandoval, a member of Be Well Victoria, said their goal is to spark conversations throughout the community about things that affect our mental well-being.

Speakers include Kayla Gutierrez, one of the Be Well Victoria members, as well as David Gibson, Annette Yancey, Sherrae Brisette, Alicia Garza and Rachel Adame.

Three Victoria County Health Department representatives are working to bring awareness and #BREAKTHESTIGMA tied to mental health with a series of “speak out” events in recognition of mental health concerns and those facing their battles in silence.

“We wanted to do something where we could really show the faces of real people and show that these are our friends and neighbors,” Sandoval said. “These are our community members that we need to embrace and support in dealing with mental illness.”

Some of the stigma that surrounds mental illness is based on stereotypes that rarely define what actual mental illness looks like. Sandoval added that many times, “people use terms like ‘crazy’ or ‘off their rocker,’ to describe people with mental health issues,” but the organization hopes to, “remove some of the negative things that we think about mental illness.”

In honor of Mental Health Awareness month, Be Well Victoria in partnership with Liberty Coffee Haus, will create a safe space where people can talk about those things that they’re dealing with.

There are also Be Well Victoria Coalition meetings held regularly at the Victoria Public Library. Their next meeting is at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, May 28th in the Bronte Room, at 5:00 p.m. light refreshments will be served.

At Thursday night’s event, the first 25 people in the door get a free tea or coffee courtesy of Be Well Victoria and Liberty Coffee Haus.

So, take the time to come out and listen to the stories of your neighbors and friends. Mental Health Awareness is important, and you never know who around you could be suffering. If you’re suffering from a mental health concern yourself, Be Well Victoria is here to help. Sandoval and Gutierrez can be reached at (361) 578-6281 ext. 3005. Or you can find them on Facebook.