Mental health fair provides insight to break stigma - Tucson News Now

Mental health fair provides insight to break stigma

Source: KOLD Source: KOLD
Source: KOLD Source: KOLD
TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

The inaugural Tucson Palooza provided insight Saturday, as organizations offered guidance to those in-need during Mental Health Awareness Month. 

Music blared through Himmel Park as a call for help that you could hear around the block. Organizers of the fair were not shying away from its significance.

"I think for the most part everybody wants to feel supported. But at the same time we're here to enable and empower folks. That's a big thing, that we can walk through this. Recovery is possible," said Jose Castillo from Cenpatico Integrated Care. He was involved in the event's planning meetings. "It's very important. A lot of times, people get stuck on the stigma."

That negative attitude couldn't have been more reversed. Activities sprinkled throughout the park provided a fun atmosphere to get people talking. 

Food and art were the conversation starter, followed up with dozens of informational booths featuring people like Jessica Sottosanti with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. She knows the subject matter all-too-well.

"Why do I do it? I do it because I am in recovery myself," she said with a long pause. "This, for me, is part of my recovery."

The young woman is a volunteer with the foundation's local chapter. She's a survivor, in recovery for about a year, who "has lived experience with suicide," she said.

Sottosanti now has tools at her disposal that she never had before. "Because of that I know that I'm capable of moving past those hard times and continuing on with life."

She spent Saturday morning and afternoon passing on the suicide prevention message to anyone who would listen. People stopped by her booth to take pamphlets and resource materials, or hear her story. 

Sottosanti said that people dealing with suicidal thoughts feel like they are alone. 

"But then you go out into the community and you start talking with other people. People start opening up with you.  When you open up, other people feel like they can open up. They feel comfortable opening up."

It's that comfort, with events like the Mental Health Fair, that gets at-risk individuals out of the shadows.

"It's not hidden. It's not private. This is for everybody. From young to old, mental illness does not discriminate."

If you are in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741-741.

Cenpatico crisis services are also available 24/7 by calling 1 (866) 495-6735.

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