Bring Change 2 Mind Rally

BY ALLEN BUCHANAN Staff Writer

ST. PETERSBURG —The Professional Woman’s Group of Tampa hosted the first Bring Change 2 Mind Rally at the Sanderlin Center last Sat., March 21 from 10 -2 p.m. The event emphasized removing the stigma of people having mental health issues by providing a plethora of health services to cater to their individual needs.

Vendors were on hand to offer services and information ranging from personal wellness and development to HIV and STD prevention such as ReachUp, a Tampa-based service organization that believes health begins where we live, work and play.

Vanessa Johnson, CEO and founder of Blue Moon 211 Inc., provides suicide prevention outreach to communities through public awareness, education and motivation. According to the Center for Disease Control, over 5,400 young people in grades 7-12 try to take their lives every day in America. In a year’s time, that equates to 1,971,000 school aged youth attempting suicide.

Enso Behavioral Healthcare was also at the rally to inform citizens about their services to help people struggling with body image, eating disorders, substance abuse, addictions, depression, anxiety, work related stress, parenting and grief and loss.

For ex-felons who are trying to transition back into society, their challenges are sometimes insurmountable, which is why they would need an organization such as the Pinellas Ex-Offender Re-entry Coalition (PERC).

“What we do is help people who have convictions in their background find employment,” said Monique Baker, employment developer for PERC. The organization assists ex-felons with filling out applications, offer classes on the interview process and even help them a place to live.

Baker shared the impact of PERC on ex-offenders through a story about a young lady who was very bright and tech savvy but was addicted to drugs and ended up stealing and losing her job. When she was released from prison, she found PERC and they helped her restart her life. She is currently training for a future management position.

Additional vendors included YouFit, Blue Medicare HMO, Walmart, Community Specialty Pharmacy, Help-Us Help-U Health and Wellness Clinic and Access Florida.

Everyone who came to the rally could sign an End-The-Stigma Pledge to show support for people with mental illness. Anyone who signed the pledge was given a ticket to get a t-shirt, snack and drink before they left the event. The Bring Change 2 Mind Rally is the result of a partnership between Glenn Close and the Fountain House.

For more information, you can view the website www.bringchange2mind.org.

To reach Allen Buchanan, email abuchanan@theweeklychallenger.com

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