News Article Details

'Be the Voice' raises awareness of mental health

Newton Daily News - 1/19/2018

Jan. 19--In honor of Zac Yeggy, a mental health advocacy group hosted "Be the Voice" game night. Zac-Attacks Stigma drew in more than 20 people to the Newton Public Library Thursday night.

"Zac was 26 and he had been suffering from bipolar disorder, and he was medication compliant but the meds weren't working well," Kelly Yeggy, Zac's mother, said. "Nobody knew about his disorder ... he did a good job of masking his symptoms."

On Aug. 22, 2017 Zac Yeggy committed suicide.

"It just got to be too much for him," Yeggy said. "He took his own life ... and my husband found him."

Yeggy said the ironic part is that she is no stranger to advocating for mental health. She has been a Judicial Mental Health Advocate for Jasper County and for more than 50 counties for the last 12 years.

"Number one, it's a tremendous honor that this group took it upon themselves to name the group after my son, and I think he would be really honored," Yeggy said. "For me, tonight is about education, about understanding that mental illness is just a medical condition and there shouldn't be a negative stigma that surrounds it."

Olivia Wickliff, of Zac-Attacks Stigma, became the lead volunteer for the event.

"Feedback has been pretty wonderful tonight," Wickliff said. "I think community support is important, and I certainly think it's important for people to know there are others out there who deal with mental health."

Wickliff said attendees enjoyed themselves by challenging each one another to a game of Uno or Checkers.

"There is a little bit of conversation about mental health, but its mostly just relaxing," Wickliff said.

Julie Bishop Gibson is the grant coordinator for a three-year grant which aims to increase access to mental health care and improve coordination among Jasper County providers like Capstone and Optimae.

Gibson said mental health collaboration in Jasper County is working to improve access and awareness to mental health care.

"One of our subgroups is Zac-Attacks Stigma, and it identified that it'd be fun to have a mental health friendly, substance abuse free event," Gibson said.

With 25 percent of the population having mental health concerns, Gibson said it's important for local organizations to come together. Gibson said Kelly Yeggy has been an active advocate for mental health.

Kelly Yeggy and Capstone plan to host a mental health fair this spring.

"Ever since she's been able to find her feet again, her head has been around how to combat stigma and how to make mental health care possible," Gibson said. "She's found her calling and her voice, and it's a beautiful voice."

Contact Kayla Singletary at

641-792-3121 ext. 6533 or


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