Bianca Castro

North Texans Talk About ‘Okay To Say': Ending Mental Health Stigma

North Texans are encouraging others to join the "Okay To Say "movement and break the cycle by sharing stories and talking openly about mental health.

The statewide effort launched with Emmitt Smith and Mark Cuban encourages Texans to add their voice through a social media campaign by simply adding their name to the pledge at

Supporters can also share stories of how mental illness has affected them or a loved one, include statements of support, and add photos or videos.

Stormy Slider, a veteran of the military, shared her story with NBC 5.

"I served on active duty on the United States Marine Corps from '04 to the end of '07 and I was assaulted while on active duty. I went through counseling and was never properly diagnosed until I got out, probably in '08. Through the Veterans Affairs, I was finally diagnosed with PTSD," said Slider.

"Society as a whole is absolutely going to be better if we just start saying, 'It's okay to say, yeah I have a mental illness,'" Slider added.

Daniel Peña, a 21-year-old University of Texas at Dallas student, also shared his story and said he suffered from uncontrollable emotions and inexplicable anger while growing up.

"It was getting to the point where I was thinking about taking my own life several times, so I was like I can't deal with it and I need help," said Peña, who also explained how growing up in Latin culture had its challenges.

"There's a lot of 'machismo' and there's a lot of keeping it to yourself and dealing with 'cause I'm a man and I can deal with this," said Peña. "That's something that we can't perpetuate as a society anymore."

Eighty-eight percent of Texans agree that the stigma surrounding mental health issues needs to be removed, according the Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute, which launched the movement.

"A lot of people think it's cowardess to talk about your feelings, to talk about stuff like that, but talking about your feelings and letting people know, 'Hey, I have a mental illness,' that's bravery right there," said Peña.

"Even if you don't have a mental illness yourself, I guarantee, you have a family member or a friend or a co-worker who maybe suffering in silence, and if you would just step up and be open-minded and have a listening ear, that could mean so much to that person," added Slider.

"Okay to Say" is sponsored by the Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that supports the implementation of policies and programs to help Texans obtain effective, efficient mental health care when and where needed.

For more information about the Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute, visit

To join the Okay to Say movement, visit

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