Spark Bracelets: Breaking the Stigma Against Mental Health

Spark Bracelets, a small company started by Vero Higareda, a student at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, focuses on sparking conversations about mental health illness through handcrafted bracelets made by Mexican artisans. They want to break the stigma through starting positive conversations about mental health. Spark will hold its second open mic event in the Valley at Yerberia Cultura in McAllen on Thursday, Feb. 2, 2017 from 9 p.m. to 12 a.m.

Everyone is welcome to join this free event hosted by Spark Bracelets. The event will be an open mic for those who want to share their personal experiences with mental health illness.

According to the event page, “Spark Bracelets will be holding a second open mic event in order to share our testimonies, our poems, our music, our art and experiences so that we can de-stigmatize mental illness together.”

Around the world, mental illness is viewed as a taboo subject. Not many are willing to openly talk about anxiety, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder or bi-polar disorder, and Spark does exactly the opposite at this event. Everyone who goes up to speak is open about their experience, and the audience is extremely welcoming.

“The purpose of Spark's Open Mic event is for people to have a safe space to talk about mental illness and mental health,” said Higareda, who started Spark Bracelets to give people a gateway to conversation about mental health. I sat down with her to talk about why she started this company.

Higareda wants to create a space where mental illness is not treated negatively, and allow people to have an open conversation about illnesses that they suffer from, such as depression, anxiety, and OCD.

According to MentalHealth.gov, one in five Americans experience some type of mental health condition through out their lifetime, and the people at Spark Bracelets think that an event like this is necessary. Perhaps talking about issues out loud will help people understand and admit the struggles of suffering from a mental illness.

Sergio Villalobos, who has suffered from mental illness since the fourth grade, plans to attend the event, and agrees that we need more conversation starters about mental health.

“Mental illness is very real, and people must understand that if we don’t speak about the reality of this, it becomes a bigger threat than the illness itself,” said Villalobos in an interview over email. He has suffered from anxiety and depression. “I am excited about this event because it has challenged me to be okay in the midst of my anxiety.”

Join Spark Bracelets and help de-stigmatize mental illness on Feb. 2, Thursday night at Yerberia Cultura in McAllen. The event is free! In a world where physical health is often put ahead of mental health, a company like this is necessary.

For more information, visit Spark Bracelet’s Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/SparkAConversation/

Or visit their website, http://www.sparkbracelets.com