Hundreds send message in LOVE Park to those with mental illness
Wednesday, June 4, 2014
Posted by: Theresa Jackson
CINDY STANSBURY, DAILY
NEWS STAFF WRITER
June 4, 2014, 3:01 AM
MIKE THOMPSON'S eyes
well up, wet and full as puddles, as he recalls his brother, Tom.
"I would visit him
occasionally and he would talk about things that didn't make sense to me,"
Thompson, 57, says in a video. "He struggled. And then one day I got a
He pauses for a moment
and purses his lips: "My brother killed himself."
"I am Mike Thompson
and I will listen," he says as the video fades.
The video was presented
as part of the nation's first #IWillListen Day, held yesterday in LOVE Park in
an effort to fight the stigma surrounding mental illness.
The event was hosted by
the Philadelphia Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual Disability
Services, the National Alliance on Mental Illness in New York City (NAMI), Box
of Stars and the Thomas Scattergood Behavior Health Foundation.
The "I Will
Listen" campaign is most notably recognized for its cathartic videos
pledging support to listen to those in need of help for their mental illness.
Thompson's video, according to NAMI board president Barbra Richie, has by far
been the most popular. Thompson preceded Richie as president of the organization.
After each video plays
on the campaign's website, the screen notes that one in four Americans is
affected by mental illness. More than 400 pledge videos were filmed during
yesterday's five-hour event.
"I think as I got
involved in talking about it [his brother's suicide], a lot of emotions came
out that really said, 'I could've done more, and we all gotta do more.' "
Patrick Kennedy, a
former Rhode Island congressman and champion of mental-health awareness,
offered advice on a course of action to a passionate crowd that still smiled
brightly as the rain began to pour down over their heads.
"One way to begin
the healing process [in regards to mental illness] is to make sure that people
with mental illness no longer feel marginalized in our society, they are no
longer isolated in our society and they are no longer discriminated against in
our society simply because their illness is an illness of the brain as opposed
to an illness of the body," Kennedy said.
Richie, 49, said the
decision to host #IWillListen Day in Philadelphia was easy because of support
from Arthur Evans, the commissioner of Philadelphia's behavioral health
department, and Joseph Pyle, president of the Scattergood Foundation, based at
Friends Hospital in Crescentville.
"It was almost
natural to come down here because they have the network, they feel so strongly
about this cause," Richie said. "They basically took this event and
ran with it."
Thompson said the event
gave him hope for the future.
"I'll tell you
what's encouraging to me," he said. "There's so many leverage points
in a community. There are policy makers, there are businesses, there are press.
When all those people collaborate and engage, you can change the world and I
think that's what we are seeing today."
CINDY STANSBURY, DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER STANSBC@PHILLYNEWS.COM, 215-854-5914
Read more at: http://www.philly.com/philly/news/20140604_Hundreds_send_message_in_LOVE_Park_to_those_with_mental_illness.html#ZPDZB6wosj7zbQf4.99