Rockford community rallies to reduce mental health stigma

ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - Community members rally in downtown Rockford to raise awareness of mental illnesses and their impact on families

"That was probably one of the most difficult times in my life,” said Christina Peacock who struggles with mental illness.

Peacock suffers from bipolar disorder and her worst experience came right after the birth of her third child.

"I found myself standing in my driveway just in my pajamas no shoes in the middle of January,” Peacock said.

Confused and disoriented, Peacock couldn't control her thoughts or emotions.

"I was positive I was going to hurt something, someone and I didn't know what I was going to do,” Peacock said.

She spent four days in the psychiatric unit of a hospital and reached out to anyone who could help her.

"That was devastating but, it ended up getting me the intervention and the help that I needed,” Peacock said.

Peacock copes with her disorder by educating the community.

"Part of my therapy is volunteering and giving back and helping other people and being an advocate for their mental health,” Peacock said.

She works with the National Alliance on Mental Illness and helped organize Friday’s rally in downtown Rockford. The rally was part of the mental illness awareness week.

"It’s just a chance for the community to come together and listen to personal stories from other community members and see how their personal stories sparked change in our community,” said Danielle Angileri, NAMI executive director.

Angileri says these events are meant to break down stigmas surrounding mental health.

"I think that a lot of people understand mental illness and mental health. But there are a lot of people that still don't and keeping that conversation going helps,” Angileri said.

NAMI hosts several support groups and educational courses each month to help people dealing with a mental illness and for those who love them.