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A Journey of Hope: Real Life Stories of Living with Mental Health Challenges Portrayed Through Art

A Journey of Hope: Real Life Stories of Living with Mental Health Challenges Portrayed Through Art

In recognition of Mental Health Awareness Week (October 7-13), the Elk Grove Fine Arts Center is showing a unique exhibit on real life stories of mental health challenges through art.

On display nightly October 6 through the 20, the fourth annual, A Journey of Hope: real life stories of living with mental health challenges portrayed through art exhibit bridges the gap between the broader community and those living with a mental health condition by collaborating stories of hope and recovery from real life Sacramento County residents living with mental health challenges and local artists, who individually transformed these stories of hope into living works of art in various mediums including sculpture, paint and photography, among others.

Home Again: written by Jody Wilson, art by Alexandria Penny Booze

Mental health disorders can manifest in many forms yet anxiety, mood, personality, and eating disorders can have dramatic consequences on the quality of life for the sufferer and those closest to them.

Invisible to the naked eye, but very real for the person suffering. Mental illness does not discriminate – affecting people of all ages, genders, ethnicities, or beliefs and can develop from biological or environmental sources.

Mental Health is More Prevalent Than You Think

Statistics show that nearly 1 in 5 people live with some sort of diagnosable emotional or behavioral mental health condition at some point in their lifetime. Based on these statistics, of the 173,702 recorded Elk Grove residents, almost 35,000 are mental health survivors.

Thankfully, mental health has come a long way and with education and proper treatment, mental health conditions are fully treatable and many live full and meaningful lives after recovery.

However, largely due to a lack of awareness of mental health conditions and their treatability, an unawareness of the accessibility to local treatment programs, and the fear of discrimination keep two thirds of those in need from seeking professional help.

Stopping Stigma by Creating Awareness

Organized in part by Photographer and fellow survivor, Laura Bemis and created in partnership with the “Mental Illness: it’s not always what you think project from the Sacramento County Department of Health Services, Division of Behavioral Health Services; the exhibit aims to stop the social stigmas surrounding mental health by creating awareness and breaking down the barriers that hold suffers back from seeking help.

According to, “stigma is the rejection, avoidance or fear people direct toward those they perceive as being ‘different’” and was once referred as “the most formidable obstacle to future progress in the arena of mental illness and health” in a 1999 U.S. Surgeon General’s report.

As a society we tend to stigmatize a lot, but for a mental health sufferer– who may not fully understand true realities surrounding the love and friendships in their lives or through cognitive distortions, believes the worst in oneself; having a trusted individual discredit, devalue, or avoid their pain by saying it’s not real, can have drastic and dangerous effects on the emotional brain.

A Journey to the End of Hopelessness: written by Anne Otter, art by Brianne Koons

With suicide rates at an all-time high, we as a community should be concerned and open to learning and understanding the challenges of our neighbors. More than ever in recorded history are we expected to do so much as individuals; finish school, find a fulfilling career, support a family, buy a home, be an exceptional parent, don’t raise jerks, etc.

In the millennia of social media, judgment is open and often – everyone has an opinion and many are loud and unkind. It is challenging for the healthiest of us. Add in mental illness and the challenges of meeting social expectation while enduring a daily non-stop internal fight, in silence, can break even the strongest among us.

However, for those suffering – knowing they are not alone, that there is help out there and that hope CAN be found is often just the recipe needed for recovery out of the darkness.

Not The Only One: written by Sarah Cook, art by Rochelle Czar

Show Your Support and Pledge Awareness

Free to the public, the exhibit will run 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. October 7-20, 2018 at the Elk Grove Fine Arts Center. To learn more about the Journey of Hope exhibit or to pledge support and learn how to help stop the stigma, visit

If you need information on mental health resources in Sacramento County, dial 211 to be connected to a local community resource officer for a free referral list. And if you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts; please reach out and talk to someone, go to the closest emergency room, or call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.

You are NOT alone.

There is Hope!

About The Author

Tara Purcell

Tara Purcell is a 20 year resident of Elk Grove and a mother of 3. As a Mom, wife, daughter, sister, employee, mental health survivor and special needs parent, Tara is passionate about her community, her kids, and promoting awareness and outreach of behavioral health in Elk Grove. In her spare time, Tara is a music lover, movie buff, and foodie.

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