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story.lead_photo.caption File Photo/FLIP PUTTHOFF Jessie Kersh with Courage Theraputic Riding Center in Prairie Grove shows Rain, one of the center's horses, to MINDfest Northwest Arkansas patrons at the 2018 event.

A festival designed to raise awareness and decrease stigma around mental illness is returning for its second year, says co-organizer Nichole Gutierrez. MINDfest will be held on Saturday at Shiloh Square in downtown Springdale.

"The goal is to provide the community with one place to come and find resources for mental health needs," says Gutierrez. "Most of the people who provide mental health help in the Northwest Arkansas area will be there, and we also have a lot of area nonprofits who will be attending."



WHEN — 10:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Saturday

WHERE — Shiloh Square pavilion, 106 W. Emma Ave. in Springdale

COST — Free


Gutierrez says she and her co-organizer, Richard Lally, got the inspiration for the event from a similar one held in Little Rock in 2017, sponsored by the Mind Coalition.

According to their website, the Mind Coalition "is working to integrate local organizations across all areas of mental health to better serve people in the Arkansas community. In doing so, we hope to help individuals suffering from mental illness get access to the specific care they need, while educating the community on how to promote and maintain better mental health."

Gutierrez says last year's Northwest Arkansas event was planned in too short an amount of time to allow for much publicity, but, still, the turnout was good -- she estimates about 200 people were in attendance, with approximately 25 vendor booths. Gutierrez says she hopes attendance will increase this year because educating the general public about mental health issues is of vital importance.

"Personally, I've had my own mental health struggles. There's not one person in the world who is not touched by this, somehow. I really think it's important to talk about it, because, right now, there's a huge stigma around it. If people are having this conversation, it helps break that stigma, and lets people know that they can ask for help.

"We want it to be a fun, family-friendly event, where people come and hang out. That's why we have food trucks and a kids area. And this year, we're offering to the community three free therapeutic sessions in yoga, art and music therapy." The event will also feature live music.

-- Lara Jo Hightower

[email protected]

NAN What's Up on 09/13/2019

Print Headline: MINDfest seeks to bring people together to heal

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