Pullen Park event aimed at ending mental health stigma in communities of color

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Kashinda Marche's t-shirt reads, "My mental health matters." It's not just a slogan. It's a personal affirmation she embraced after years of struggles, setbacks and a devastating diagnosis at 19-years-old.

"I had just become a mother. I had just had a beautiful daughter. Then, ten months after, I was diagnosed with HIV," Marche said.

Marche is 45 now. Her daughter, Asia, is healthy and thriving. Modern medicine has allowed her to successfully manage her HIV. But last year, a years-long struggle with peripheral neuropathy left Marche unable to walk. She fought the darkness of depression and emerged on the other side empowered and eager to pass along ways to cope.

"I'm living the life of my dreams from my wheelchair," Marche said. "I serve through my challenges."

After a year and a half of a COVID-19 pandemic, racial trauma and everyday stressors of life - Marche and her non-profit Kreative on Purpose took a proposal to the leadership team at the Raleigh-Apex NAACP.

"And when she explained the goal and the objective of what she wanted to accomplish, the executive committee voted unanimously to support this effort financially and any other way we possibly could," said Gerald Givens, Jr., president of the Raleigh-Apex NAACP Chapter.

The inaugural event of the My Mental Health Matters campaign is Saturday, July 10 in Raleigh's Pullen Park - providing access to mental health experts and resources aimed at breaking down the stigma of mental health struggles within Black and brown communities. It's free to anyone who wants to come

"It's a day for people who have been thinking over this past year, 'I just want to be happy,'" Givens said.

"This is about stating that my mental health matters, yes, your mental health matters, our mental health matters. I want you to speak it. I want you to say it for yourself," Marche added. "We have to acknowledge it. And once we do, everything just opens up."

My Mental Health Matters runs from Noon to 3:00 p.m. Saturday at shelter number 4 in Pullen Park. Along with the mental health resources, organizers are also offering free COVID-19 vaccinations.
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