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MHA's POWER Event a Success

2021's Mental Health Month (May) was arguably one of the most important in recent memory.

Period. Full stop.

As a global pandemic continued and persisted into its second year, a national awakening erupted surrounding the importance, and right, of equality in the United States. Additionally, the certification of an election cycle that will, without doubt, be studied in future generations' history classes played out on TVs all over the world. People watched as the world outside took sides; for change, for political affiliation, for community, for family, for all sorts of reasons. We split ourselves into groups . . . some rational, others emotional, some for survival or proximity . . . and, this, at a time when our physical and emotional constitutions were already severely frayed. The landscape of life shifted again and again and, just like 2020, many began wondering if this INDEED was the "new normal". Some people were/are still isolated while others hadn't/haven't received the much needed reprieve from the additional work and/or risk they accommodated in a time of global distress more than a year before. People were/are angry. People were/art hurt. We were/are tired and stressed and a long list of other not-so-pleasant things and many are experiencing these prolonged feelings for the very first time.

For all the trouble COVID19 brought, one topic did loose its scarcity in a positive way: people's willingness to talk about, and care about, their and others' mental health. Since as long as the Mental Health Association in Indian River County (MHA) has been around (1958), and long before that, the topic of mental health has been a bit taboo or otherwise avoided. In recent years, the negative connotations and reactions have slowly and incrementally been shed piece by tiny piece until, *BAM!!!*, COVID. Suddenly mental health became a talking point at the (virtual) dinner table. More and more people began noticing the negative effects of depression, anxiety, claustrophobia, loneliness, isolation, stress . . . you name it. The pandemic, and the entirety of 2020 and 2021 (so far) brought ALL those negative feelings out. Many people felt the persistence of these emotions for the first time and, rightly, sought help and guidance.

The MHA is, and has always been, a vocal advocate for mental health and actively seeks new and novel ways to spread the word and inform people about mental health. So, when the opportunity to collaborate with a hip-hop artist from right here on the Treasure Coast, Tyon ‘T-Lyon’ Davis, presented itself, we jumped at the chance! The virtual concert, hosted by Vero's own Nick Samuel and produced by Felt Studios, featured open and candid discussions on mental health topics and live performances by T-Lyon.

T-Lyon is a passionate, young Hip-Hop artist whose songs, including the song that inspired the event, “Power”, revolve around the topic of mental health. “It’s a powerful song with a powerful message”, explained Sheana Firth, Chief Brand Officer, “and it’s packaged within cleverly composed bars sung over a soulful melody that just sticks in your brain”. A native of Ft. Pierce, Mr. Davis recently began meeting and collaborating with three-time Grammy award-winning artist, Wyclef Jean and has a large, devoted following of his own all around the nation. Even Pepsi® has T-Lyon on their radar, having selected him as a finalist for composing the music for their next commercial! The lyrics to “Power” skillfully create a positive narrative about staying positive while dealing with overbearing struggles in life: “Know that everyday the devil test me/but, see I’m living stress free/can’t let your energy affect me/I battled suicide/I’m still alive/depression tried to come get me.” This approach to thinking about and openly talking about mental struggles fits hand-in-hand with the MHA’s mission. T-Lyon performed two other equally powerful songs and spoke candidly about his personal inspirations and hardships. MHA Staff members Kelly Williams and Chrissy Aspormonte (both LMHC's) were on stage to answer questions the community wanted to know most about. Comments from the live stream included affirmations of support and cheers of praise.

"This is truly an amazing event. Thanks for having it. Normalization of mental health should be something talked about on a high level."
"Thank you for sharing your story"
"Really appreciate this, mental health is not talked about enough"

Mental Health Month is national movement to raise awareness about mental health. Each year we fight against the negative associations towards mental health, provide community support, educate the public, and advocate for policies that support people with mental illness and their families.

The MHA would not have been able to provide this event to the public without the help and generosity of T-Lyon, Felt Studios and Nick Samuel.

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