Author, entertainer works to erase stigma of mental health

Author, entertainer works to erase stigma of mental health

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - The topic of mental health is taking center stage as a Central Virginia woman is on a mission to erase the stigma. It comes amid reports R&B and Gospel Singer, Michelle Williams of the group Destiny's Child, checked herself into a mental health facility due to her battle with depression.

There was a time some may have mocked or made light of someone seeking mental health treatment, but experts say the stigma is slowly subsiding - although there's still a long way to go.

Experts say the star's initiative should be something people do not need to feel ashamed about. It follows the suicides of fashion designer Kate Spade and CNN personality Anthony Bourdain last month.

"Not one person in this room was born with an instruction manual. No one knows what the hell they're doing," says mental health case manager, Erin Mahone. "We haven't talked about it historically. People have been ashamed."

Mahone is so invested in mental health, she created the #IfYouCouldSeeMe movement, which is bringing strangers together through art and entertainment in a series of shows, art exhibits and workshops uniting strangers through the differences that make us all human.

Her second one-woman-show kicks off in the winter.

"We leave feeling like we're closer to people, even if we have never met one another before," Mahone says.

Because there's meaning behind the message.

"The voice in our head that says, 'you're not good enough, you're not strong enough, you're not smart enough, you're not who you want to be in the world'...try and quiet that voice, in spite of what anxiety tells me I can't do, to not let it have that power over me," Mahone says.

Feelings of doubt can impact anyone - celebrity or not - but those feelings can ultimately be overcome.

Mahone's book is called If You Could See Me: Life, Motherhood, and the Pursuit of Sanity.

There will be a free youth conference in Hopewell addressing mental health and bullying next month.

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