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Storytellers fight the stigma of mental illness

One in five American adults deal with mental illness. In Michigan, according to the CDC, the suicide rate has risen dramatically in the past decade.

At 3 p.m., Nov. 11, a Lansing performance at Wharton Center’s Pasant will bring attention to these issues and fight the stigma that surrounds mental health and illness. They are doing this through This Is My Brave, a national non-profit organization. They want to break the silence around mental illness and celebrate and honor people who are dealing with mental illness and their loved ones.

Working with local producer Alyssa Turcsak, they have been finding local storytellers who deal with mental health challenges and are thriving. These storytellers will share their triumphs through spoken word, music and comedy.

“I continue to be blown away at what the This Is My Brave community is able to accomplish, together,” stated Co-Founder and Executive Director Jennifer Marshall. “Each year we’ve grown and offered more and more storytelling performances. Our storytellers use the hashtag “#StorytellingSavesLives” because it’s true. I’ve heard countless stories from people around the country who say that our show inspired them to keep fighting and to have the courage to share their own struggles. Alyssa Turcsak started as a storyteller for our production in Iowa, and I’m so glad she has stepped up to produce a new show in a new city.”

Turcsak grew up in Iowa and was first introduced to This Is My Brave in Iowa City, where she told her story for the first time in 2016. Her life has been impacted by mental illness, a good friend died by suicide when she was in college, and she has lived with anxiety and depression. Based in Lansing for two years, she is producing the Nov. 11 show along with Lansing resident and assistant producer Katrina Tokarski.

“This Is My Brave is a fantastic organization and being involved with a performance can be life changing for the cast members and the audience,” said Turcsak. “I lost a dear friend to suicide in 2015 and sharing my story, and my own struggles with mental illness, was a freeing experience for me. We can all work to end the deadly stigma, silence, and shame that surrounds mental illness by sharing our stories. I’m so excited to bring this show to Lansing.”

The Lansing show will feature:

• Columbus Miller, spoken word piece about mental illness and addiction

• Tanna Skaggs, speech about the differences between physical disability and mental illness

• Barb Barton, singing a song she wrote in the hospital thanking her medical team for saving her life


Nov 7, 2018
Lansing State Journal
By Bridgette Redman
https://www.lansingstatejournal.com/story/entertainment/arts/2018/11/07/storytellers-fight-stigma-mental-illness/38430313/

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