Winston-Salem community event sheds light on mental health

FORSYTH COUNTY, NC (WGHP) – A college student from Forsyth County reminds people in her community that even in their darkest days, they are not alone.

“Often people just hear about it [mental illness] when life is sadly lost, and we come out and say “whatever you’re struggling with, anxiety, depression, or any sort of mental health issue, it’s equally valid,” said Abigail Merhoff.

Merhoff is a junior at Wesleyan Christian Academy. She watched friends and family go through some of their darkest days during the COVID-19 pandemic.

She now fights for those friends, people she loves and people she doesn’t know by coming together

“I think mental health has been pushed into the background and pushed aside, and the candle is meant to shed light on what many people have kept to themselves during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Merhoff said.

Hundreds of people gathered Sunday at Mount Tabor High School in Winston-Salem and walked a two-mile loop to alleviate the problem in the first-ever “Stroll Into Light.”

They let people share their stories, and counselors like Brittany Todd made themselves available to anyone who wanted to talk to a professional.

“There has definitely been an increase in our teens and adolescents here over the past few years…mental health is its own pandemic. Everyone has something going on,” Todd said.

She says that if you feel yourself starting to sink, the best thing to do is start doing something that makes you happy.

Merhoff hopes her efforts will change lives.

“There’s something after what you’re going through. You have to go through what you’re going through right now, but there is light at the end of the tunnel,” Merhoff said.

Merhoff’s goal is for this event to take place over the Pidemont Triad. She wants each school to organize its own walk and tailor it to its students and staff.

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