Thursday, November 7, 2013

Local Musicians Promote Awareness Of Mental Illness

Posted By on Thu, Nov 7, 2013 at 4:19 PM


More than 130,000 adults in Memphis and Shelby County suffer from a mental illness, according to the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services.

The Memphis chapter of the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI) is working to change this statistic by providing resources and support to those suffering from psychiatric disorders. But the organization, with only one full-time employee, one part-time employee, and a handful of volunteers can only do so much.

In support of NAMI Memphis, nearly a dozen bands will jam out this Saturday at a free concert to raise funds for the organization. The event, "Memphians In Support of the Mentally Ill" (MISOMI), will take place November 9th at Newby’s (539 S Highland St). The event will last from 9 p.m. to 3 a.m.

MISOMI's band lineup includes Clay Otis, Devil Train, Ghost Town Blues Band, Jack Oblivian, Mojo Possum, The Sheiks, and several others.

Local drummer, Graham Winchester, is the brainchild of MISOMI. He thought it was important to promote awareness about mental illness and show support from the local community.

“It seems like mental illness is a facet of human life that’s so misunderstood,” Winchester said. “I’ve known people who have struggled with all different types of mental illnesses, and a lot of people do misunderstand what they’re going through. I wanted to get a bunch of bands together and come up with the ultimate band lineup to try to steer some awareness and do something good for the community and specifically the mentally ill. I didn’t feel like enough was being done for the mentally ill in Memphis. You don’t see a lot of events or fundraisers for mentally ill support groups. [And] it’s heartwarming that so many great musicians said that they would do this for free.”

Admission for the event is $10, but any additional donations are appreciated. All funds raised will go to NAMI Memphis. Representatives of NAMI Memphis are also expected to be at the event passing out brochures, fliers, and educating people about mental illness.

“Just the fact that they’re trying to raise awareness surrounding mental health, I am so grateful for,” said NAMI Memphis’ Veronique Black.

According to NAMI, one in four adults will experience a mental health problem in any given year. And one in five young people ages 13 through 18 will also experience a mental illness. Furthermore, 16 percent of the country’s prison population suffer from severe mental illnesses, such as schizophrenia, major depression, and bipolar disorder, according to NAMI.

Post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety disorders, and eating disorders are other types of mental illnesses.

“Mental illness deserves the same respect that any other illness gets; the same amount of empathy,” Black said. “People didn’t ask for mental illness any more than they asked for cancer.”

Winchester is collaborating with Brister Street Productions for MISOMI. He plans to make MISOMI a semi-annual or annual event.

To find out more information on MISOMI, visit
To support NAMI Memphis, visit

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