Local church raises mental health awareness with chalk
COLUMBIA - The first week of October is Mental Health Awareness Week and one local church is encouraging people to stop by, pick up a piece of chalk and leave a message of love and support.
"It's an important event because one in five people are affected by mental illness so the odds are we all know someone who has been affected or we've been affected ourselves," Robert Newman, the leader of youth and media ministries said.
First Presbyterian Church is located in downtown Columbia and started the "Let's Chalk About Prayer" campaign earlier this week.
The goal of the event is to help break down barriers and stigmas associated with mental health.
"If we can raise awareness and talk about it, and get those prayers out there, maybe it will provide some space and comfort for people to come forward," Newman said.
Some of the messages mentioned ending stigmas while others showed love and support for victims of the shooting in Las Vegas.
"This has turned into an opportunity for people to support each other through honestly anything," Newman said. "And that makes me feel good to see that."
According to the National Alliance on Mental Health, 60 percent of adults with mental illness didn't receive mental health services in the previous year.
"My hope would be that someone who is struggling sees these messages and it gives them that comfort to maybe come forward," Newman said. "Even if it's one person that we affect, that's a success in my eyes."
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