Norfolk restaurant hosts benefit concert for mental health awareness

"I think it's important to do things like this to start a conversation to say its ok to not be ok and its ok to admit that."

NORFOLK, Va. (WVEC) -- One in four adults in the United States suffers from a mental illness. It's an issue many of them have trouble talking about. On Friday that all changed.

A benefit for mental health concert was held at Toast in Ghent to raise awareness.

Chris Felan may be a rock star for the local band Deathhouse Blues, but off stage he's just like 42 million other Americans living with a mental illness.

"I've struggled with depression myself since I was a teenager," said Felan.

Felan says the concert for the Up Center is so important because it makes mental health the topic of conversation, which usually isn't the case.

"The arts have a long history of being at the foreground of taking things that were once considered social taboos and bringing them out into the open," said Felan.

All entrance fees for the show go to the Up Center. Last year alone their 22 programs treated about 10,000 people across Hampton Roads.

"We've come a long way over time but it really takes all of us being more open and honest in talking about the everyday issues we all face to make it more acceptable," said Up Center Spokesperson Hanna Billings.

Billings says she hopes this event encourages more people to seek the help they need but may have been afraid to ask for.

"And trying to help people live their best lives and be happy and healthy in their own bodies and minds," said Billings

Musician Gabriel Perry lost a loved one to suicide in 2009, he says if concerts like tonight can save just one life it's worth it.

"I think it's important to do things like this to start a conversation to say its ok to not be ok and its ok to admit that," said Perry.

Adam Hanson is a musician by night, during the day he's a mental health coordinator. He said often both jobs merge as one.

"It is so intrinsically involved in music, its in the lyrics, its masked in everything we do, and hopefully it can help people get through some tough situations," said Hanson.
 

© 2017 WVEC-TV


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