CHARLOTTE, NC (FOX 46 WJZY) — A mental health outreach program is targeting gym-goers in Charlotte.
“The gym saved my life,” said Fonda Bryant, who almost took her own life 23 years ago. “Working out is one of the best ways to fend off a mental health condition.”
On Saturday, Bryant set up shop at University Fitness Connection in Charlotte for an outreach event called “Sanity Not Vanity.” Bryant, a board member with the National Alliance on Mental Illness, and police crisis intervention teams, talked to people about mental health options that are available.
The goal is to reduce the stigma.
“You might be in a crisis,” said Bryant. “And sometimes unless you’re going to hurt yourself or others you can’t get the service right away and that needs to change.”
Jeff Monteita took the opportunity to talk with law enforcement.
“I think it’s great,” he said. “I think they need to do it more often.”
In between his workout, Monteita said he suffered from depression following a difficult childhood growing up around drugs in a dangerous neighborhood.
“Depression is all over,” said Monteita. “The thing is we never take the time to ask the individual what they’re going through.”
“Everyone has a form of depression,” he added. “Some of us hide it better than others.”
In North Carolina, someone dies from suicide every six seconds, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
District Attorney Spencer Merriweather says Mecklenburg County has a lot of resources but more needs to be done to help those who are struggling.
“Evidence around us will tell us there could always be more,” said Merriweather. “And we have to redouble our efforts to try to make sure that we’re meeting those challenges wherever we see them.”
Law enforcement crisis intervention teams are working to meet those challenges. Officers undergo extensive training to meet the daily demand.
“The training and getting out in the community is really helping us,” said Sgt. Ivan Reitz with Charlotte Mecklenburg Police. “And I think we are seeing the effects of officers using force a lot less.”
For Bryant, offering hope to others, is a daily workout.
“You’re not alone,” she said. “You don’t have to suffer in silence. There are people that care.”
If you or someone you know needs help, you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255