The month of May is National Mental Health Awareness Month, a time to shed light on stories that are so often pushed into the background.
“Destigmatize Me!”, a live concert and arts event coming up this Saturday, looks to lead the push for awareness in Jacksonville.
Founder and band coordinator Dakota Lawrence, who works in the local mental health community, sees an issue in the availability of mental health resources in the First Coast area.
“There’s not a lot of options out there in Jacksonville,” Lawrence says. “It’s something we wanted to do something about.”
Lawrence passed the idea around for the event to some friends and family members, and was “blown away by the excitement.”
“We got a lot of positive feedback,” says Lawrence.
The event, taking place from 4 to 10 PM at the 1904 Music Hall downtown, features five local bands: Climb the Summit, Faze Wave, Le Orchid, Northe, and The Offshore. It will also feature interactive art shows, silent auctions and raffles, airbrush tattoos, and more, with local mental health organizations providing information and education about the resources that are available in the area.
Their local band lineup came together as a combination of the staff’s connections in the Jacksonville music scene, and working with the Mind Over Music Movement. One band, The Offshore, features founder Dakota Lawrence.
All proceeds from the event go to NAMI Jacksonville, the local chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness.
“They do a lot of great work,” Lawrence says of NAMI Jacksonville, “but they’re someone you don’t hear much about, it’s all behind the scenes.”
This is the first year the event has been held; as for future years, Lawrence says he’d like to see it continue as a yearly event whether under his control or someone else’s.
“Unfortunately some of us, myself included are heading off to different parts of the country for graduate school,” Lawrence notes.
“But all of us are from here, born and raised, and this is obviously a place that we care a lot about and we’re all planning on coming back.”
No matter what the future of “Destigmatize Me!” may be, it will certainly provide a fitting kickoff to Mental Health Awareness Month in Jacksonville this year.
Want a chance to win two tickets to “Destigmatize Me!”? Share this article on Twitter or Facebook with the hashtag #DestigmatizedJax — you’ll automatically be entered for a chance to win! Contest ends Friday, May 6 at 2:00 PM; winner announced at 4:00 PM the same day.