Brave Faces are Shasta County residents who share their personal recovery stories to fight stigma related to mental illness, addiction and/or suicide. Their stories break down myths and stereotypes. They highlight commonalities, reducing the “otherness” that stigma creates. They also inspire people to have honest conversations about mental health, making it easier to seek help by removing shame.
Click on a gallery below to get to know our Brave Faces.
Brave Faces Advocate, Denise Green, believes in living life to its fullest. In addition to being a mother, wife, homesteader, and social worker, she manages a diagnosis of schizophrenia.
“What I’ve learned in life is that as soon as you tell people that you have a condition, they expect less of you. Achieving more is how I break stigma.”
New York City native and Redding resident Cherish Padro has learned to manage her bipolar diagnosis despite the stigma she faced from family and well intentioned members of her church.”It’s been a challenging but rewarding journey. I’ve learned how to take care of myself and make the choices that are best for me.”
Brave Face, Mike Skondin, a U.S. Marine Veteran, talks about his experiences transitioning back to civilian life with PTSD after serving in Colombia and doing drug interdiction.
“I was constantly doing things to match the adrenaline level I experienced in combat,” says Mike. This drive attracted him and jobs with significant risk of physical injury, and led to substance abuse and two suicide attempts.
Matt Sprenger from Anderson shares his story of surviving a suicide attempt as a young teenager and how he is now on the path of recovery. The National Institute for Mental Health reports there are 11 people who survive a suicide attempt for every person who completes a suicide.
15-year-old high schooler and Redding resident Sam Hewitt shares how the death by suicide of her friend Josh two years ago affected her own mental health as well as her classmates’.
Sam is doing much better today with the help of therapy, treatment and music. She is now dedicated to preventing suicide among other Shasta County youth.
Shasta County resident Danielle Brewster says that depression and suicidal thoughts can have many different sources. In her Brave Faces gallery, she shares how tragedy, hurtful racism and other factors led her to a deep depression, and how the support of her family and wife, the medicine of her culture and the support of her doctor helped her to move forward and live a happier life.