FAIRHOPE, Ala. (WKRG) — An Alabama-based nonprofit group is calling for people to talk about something people don’t like to talk about: mental health. The group “Wings Across Alabama” is asking for people to share their struggles and triumphs in mental health. Unlike a lot of people with similar stories, Wayne Walter is open when talking about his struggles in life and with substance abuse.
“Hopefully it will encourage somebody even if it’s just one person to want to do better in their life, to want to live to understand that life is more than just mental health or substance abuse,” said Wayne Walter. He’s one of the people sharing his story with “Wings Across Alabama” as part of their Empowerment Thrival Story Project.
“There’s value in this, not just from the storyteller just to get their story out but the people who are listening to it,” said Wings Across Alabama Program Director Dalana Willis Brooks. It’s part of a three-year project funded by a federal grant. They’re collecting stories from people who are dealing and thriving through mental health issues, substance abuse problems, or both. Organizers say one of the hardest part is getting people to share stories about their mental health issues is the stigma that can come along with it.
“People don’t see the before and after people just see when they’re in trauma when they’re having problems but they don’t see people who are on the other side who are having success,” said Wings Videographer Roxanne Fahlbarg. What they’re asking people to talk about is something that can be hard to talk about. They hope by collecting and sharing these stories they can help others go from just surviving to thrive.