Mental Health Awareness is a hot issue nationwide, as youth and adults alike struggle with mental health issues of all types. From depression and anxiety to bipolar disorder and suicide ideation, these are all real issues that touch the lives of virtually everyone today. Approximately 1 in 5 youth aged 13–18 (21.4%) experiences a severe mental disorder at some point during their life. For children aged 8–15, the estimate is 13%. Approximately 1 in 5 adults in the U.S. (46.6 million) experiences mental illness in a given year. Approximately 1 in 25 adults in the U.S. (11.2 million) experiences a serious mental illness in a given year that substantially interferes with or limits one or more major life activities.
Those statistics are staggering to the point that it would make one feel understandably helpless in knowing how to deal with these issues and accompanying numbers. But there is a group of Mothers in Brookfield, who have taken on these mental health issues with the full force of a Mid-West Tornado. They’ve pointedly taken on the name of “Moms Breaking the Silence” and are made up of four mothers who’ve tragically lost a child by suicide. They are: Nycole Griffin, Tosha Lorton, Wendy Morris and Angie Wallace. All four have lost a son within the past three years to suicide. By the compassion of reaching out to one another in each other’s time of grief and suffering, they’ve formed and share a bond of support and understanding that no one else is capable of truly comprehending.
When asked about the purpose or vision of their Moms Breaking the Silence group, Angie Wallace said, “We established ‘Moms’ to show that it’s okay to talk about mental illness. Bring it to the light. We wish that people would treat their brain the same way that they treat their body; when something’s not working right, or something is broken, do what you need to do to get it fixed. We provide mental health education and financial assistance for our communities. We are a resource for those who need mental health assistance but don’t know where to start. We want to help others get the help they need and deserve.”
Wallace adds, “Perhaps the most significant factor in seeking help, whether it be for oneself or for a family member or friend, is the shame associated with admitting that there is a mental health problem. We want to help break the silence and spread the word that it’s okay to start talking about mental illness.”
To date, Moms Breaking the Silence has many accomplishments to their credit. Recognizing that there is power in numbers, they’ve begun reaching out to organizations and communities to spread the word about signs of mental illness and how to seek help. In addition to speaking in front of numerous church, school and civic groups throughout the state, by dove-tailing with the official observation of May being Mental Health Awareness Month in the United States, the group was successful in working with the City of Brookfield, being acknowledged for their efforts, and receiving a proclamation, signed by the mayor, proclaiming May, 2019, as Mental Health Awareness Month in Brookfield.
Moms Breaking the Silence is here to stay. They’re operating with short term, as well as long term goals. These goals range in diversity from teaching Mental Health First Aid, Suicide Prevention Training, and Financial Assistance for Mental Healthcare, to opening a Mental Wellness Outpatient and Residential Facility in Brookfield, providing counseling and a broad variety of therapeutic services.
The Moms Breaking the Silence has a Facebook page, as well as an affiliated Facebook page for the Taylor Gilpin Wallace Foundation for Suicide Prevention. In order to achieve their goals, the Moms raise funds through a variety of means, including donations, apparel, poster and decal sales and fundraisers. This year, Moms has partnered with the National Suicide Awareness Semicolon Tattoo Event, which will run for all of September and October. Administered in Brookfield through the Life is Good Tattoo Shop, all profits from the exclusive, cause-specific semicolon tattoo will be donated to Moms Breaking the Silence. Also, on Sept.14, there will be a Walk to Remember 5K event in Laclede City Park. Pre-registration forms can be obtained by visiting the Moms Breaking the Silence Facebook page and find the registration link. Or you may go to ReelTime Cinema in Brookfield during business hours to get one. This does not mean you can’t register and participate the day of the event, though T-Shirts may be limited. The entry fee is $20 per person, with all proceeds benefiting Moms Breaking the Silence. On-site registration begins at 7 a.m., with the run starting at 8 a.m.
The group has its Inaugural Dinner and Auction on Saturday, Oct. 26, at the newly opened Locus Creek Event Center in Brookfield. The event costs $30 per person, and all attendees will receive a meal, dessert bar, and a bottomless souvenir glass or cup ($10 upcharge night of event) for wine or beer. Non-alcoholic beverages will be available. The event will be emceed by local personality Jeff Elliott. There will also be auction items, door prizes and a home-made pie auction. For more information about the Oct. 26 dinner and auction, or how to get involved with Moms Breaking the Silence, go to the Moms Breaking the Silence Inaugural Dinner and Auction Facebook page, or email Moms at firstname.lastname@example.org.