Local film fest explores mental illness

GRANTS PASS, Ore.  — NAMI of Southern Oregon hosted two free showings of mental health films in both Ashland and Grants Pass over the weekend.  The group is a non-profit of the national alliance on mental illness which provides education, support, and advocacy for people with mental illness and their families.

The film festival held at Southern Oregon University and Rogue Community College on Saturday and Sunday featured short films focused on a wide spectrum of mental health topics, including anxiety, borderline personality disorder, and gender identity.

“I think we get this assumption that nobody wants to talk about it and I think we’re finding that that’s not always the case,” said Meesha Blair, a board member of Nami.

Blair said it takes an average of 8-10 years for someone to get help even after they realize they have a mental health condition.

“By education, fighting the stigma that comes around mental health conditions with the end goal of that people will ask for help, that’s our mission,” Blair said.

The event also featured a panelist of students and educators on furthering the discussion of mental health.

“It allows me to empower others, no one should feel ashamed for what we go through,” said Marion DeVore, panelist, and student at SOU.

DeVore said she battles with being bipolar but its something she said she hopes to bring light to in what sometimes society sees as a dark topic.

“A lot of the times its been blown out of proportion and sometimes just not based in fact at all, and so being able to talk and have these real conversations allows us to engage and show what we are really talking about, what I experience, not what you see in the news, not what you see in movies,” she said.

Devore said we can overcome that stigma by education, and through that, many people can receive help.

“Reaching out is not weakness, it’s a way to provide strength to others.”

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