Men­tal health group cre­ates pos­i­tive af­fir­ma­tions for Pride

Orlando Sentinel - - FRONT PAGE - By Pa­trick Con­nolly

“You’re all that and dim sum.” “Life is tough but so are you.” “Ev­ery­thing will bee al­right.”

These are just a few ex­am­ples of phrases on pos­i­tive af­fir­ma­tion cards pre­pared by vol­un­teers at the Men­tal Health As­so­ci­a­tion of Cen­tral Florida’s pride prep night.

Yas­min Flaster­stein, pro­gram di­rec­tor for Or­lando United Coun­sel­ing, said the cards are part of an ef­fort to spread the word about men­tal health re­sources avail­able to the com­mu­nity.

“If you go and tell some­one, 'Here's a men­tal health re­source,' they're not go­ing to grab it,” Flaster­stein said. “But they will grab a pos­i­tive af­fir­ma­tion.”

Vol­un­teers will be hand­ing out the hand-drawn notes dur­ing Or­lando Come Out With Pride at Lake Eola this Satur­day. They’ll be of­fer­ing free hugs and show­cas­ing a com­mu­nity-col­lab­o­ra­tive paint­ing.

In ad­di­tion, the or­ga­ni­za­tion will be fundrais­ing to sup­port those fac­ing trauma in the af­ter­math of the Pulse shoot­ing.

Robert Her­mida has been vol­un­teer­ing with the Men­tal Health As­so­ci­a­tion for two years. He said the or­ga­ni­za­tion

has helped him over­come per­sonal strug­gles.

“With the Pulse shoot­ing, there was a rise of sub­stance abuse and dif­fer­ent cop­ing mech­a­nisms,” Her­mida says. “When I come here to Men­tal Health As­so­ci­a­tion, I al­ways find a room­ful of peo­ple of strength.”

Flaster­stein said be­cause rates of sui­cide are higher for LGBTQ in­di­vid­u­als, it’s es­pe­cially im­por­tant to let peo­ple within that com­mu­nity know they mat­ter.

“If you look at sui­cide rates of peo­ple who are a part of the LGBTQ com­mu­nity, the rates are re­ally high

– a lot higher than in the gen­eral pub­lic," Flaster­stein said. “I think that mak­ing af­fir­ma­tions and pass­ing out some­thing sim­ple that says, 'I don't know you, but I love you,' can come a re­ally far way.”

Or­lando Come Out With Pride fes­ti­val hap­pens this Satur­day, Oct. 13, at Lake Eola Park. Events start at noon, with the pa­rade at 4 p.m. and a pride rally at 6 p.m. More in­for­ma­tion can be found here.

Want to get in touch? You can contact Pa­trick by email or find him on Twit­ter and In­sta­gram.

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