Denison organizations want to start a discourse around mental health this month. With the opening of the mental health exhibit at Wonderland Art Gallery in Denison and the Texoma Behavioral Health Leadership’s third conference, both set for February, the topic of mental health will be taking center stage in the city.


The exhibit at 114 W. Woodard in Denison will be open from 6-8 p.m. Feb. 15 and from 4-7 p.m. Feb. 16 and the third annual “Community Behavioral Health Conference: Strengthening the Mental Health Journey” will be Feb. 28 at the Hilton Garden Inn.


Jaime Brock chose to host the mental health exhibit from a personal perspective as an individual who knows what it means to suffer from extreme depression and anxiety.


“I didn’t even tell people, even my parents, what I could see or hear,” she said.


Brock has a personal connection to mental health and wanted to make a forum for people to know that there are others affected by it. She said she does not want people to be ashamed to talk about it.


“It is important to let us have an outlet to maybe show a piece of what it is like living day after day,” Brock said. “People that don’t suffer from mental illness really don’t grasp how it affects people in their daily life.”


Brock recently changed the gallery name to Wonderland Art Gallery from Odd Ball Art Society to better reflect her dream and vision.


“I spent a lot of time asking God why I was not happy when this is what I had prayed for,” she said. “And the answer was I wanted it to be a place to encourage young artists and people just starting to develop there talent, a place that people could learn from others and I wanted to work with children. The name change has many layers. No. 1, I am in love with ‘Alice in Wonderland’ and the Red Queen is my hero because she didn’t like the roses so she painted them. Secondly, I want this place to be a place of wonder.”


Another reason Brock has chosen to focus a show on mental health is that besides the many people suffering with mental illness, the people who love and care for them suffer also.


“I have suffered from extreme depression and anxiety to the point that I see things others don’t when I am in high stress, I also raise a child with conduct disorder and ADHD,” she said. “The hardest part of all of these things is you feel so alone.”


She did not tell people even her parents what she could see or hear.


“It got worse and worse until one day I decided to take my life,” she said. “I was not sad. I just wanted it to stop. A friend saw the signs and stopped me. That is when I started talking about what was going on. I found out that my brother had the same thing and it ran in my dad’s side of the family. If I would have not been afraid of people looking at me different I could have had help sooner.”


The deadline to enter the Mental Health Exhibit is Friday.


“Reports, forums and surveys continue to show that we have significant needs here in Texoma,” Michelle Lemming of Texoma Health Foundation said about mental health services in this area. “We are working to understand why our suicide rates are significantly higher than the state and in one of the most recent studies released in North Texas, we had some of the highest outcomes in mental illness compared to 16 North Texas counties. While this is discouraging, I wish I could transfer the energy I feel here.”


Lemming explained that there is a need for more awareness and conversation about mental health in the Texoma community.


“The Texoma Health Foundation touches mental health in some way every day,” she said. “We have done so since the Board named mental health a priority in our service area seven years ago. Whether we are working to better understand services, needs or models of excellence, investing more dollars or time, implementing new projects, partnering with incredibly talented and smart leaders here at home or across the nation, we are committed to change.”


Contact Jaime Brock at brockjaime@yahoo.com or texting 903-814-4113 to schedule a delivery of art to be included in the art exhibit. She asked for no calls, though. For prospectus and more information, visit http://www.Facebook.com/WonderlandArtGallery.