By Madison Duong
EBAYC Sacramento, an organization that serves young people living in high-need neighborhoods, is hosting its first Mental Health Art Fest on April 8.
Attendees will be able to experience live music and cultural performances, enjoy food from vendors and learn more about the resources that can support young people in the community. In the end, the gathering is about a show of support for Sacramento’s future generations, who many data points suggest are struggling.
Dexter Niskala, program coordinator for the Art Fest, is hoping for a big turnout.
“We will be able to replicate everything we do positively and use it to better our overall outcomes and experiences next year,” Niskala noted. He went on to note that artists and performers will share their own stories of mental health, and that attendees can expect the live performances to relate to their backgrounds and lifestyle.
“We will also be having a youth-led art competition which was made available to participating high schools,” Niskala added.
The event will also feature resource tables from organizations like the National Health Corps, Sacramento Police Department and Cosumnes River College. Other tables will highlight mental health awareness, college readiness and applications, as well as career and internship opportunities.
Niskala pointed out that cultural factors can determine how much support someone gets from their family and community when it comes to mental health.
“Because of existing stigma, minorities are sometimes left to find mental health treatment and support alone,” he said. “This festival ideally would include most, if not all, major minority groups within the city of Sacramento in hopes of youth and their families learning more about mental wellness and the resources in our communities that are available to them.”
Medical experts generally agree that during the COVID-19 pandemic, social isolation, anxiety and depression hit youth extremely hard.
“I have never seen such a dramatic spike in the increase of needs for mental health until after COVID-19 had concluded and youth were expected to return to classes like nothing had happened,” Niskala observed. “I feel that having youth better understand their own mental health will ultimately lead to bettering outcomes of all of our youth within our communities.”
Niskala also hopes the event allows youth would be able to showcase their talents to a broad audience.
Nailani, a Sacramento R&B performer, said she’s looking forward to being part of the action because she wants to support the mission.
“By being positive and having high energy, I hope the audience can keep their heads up and know that whatever obstacles they have to go through in life everything will always be okay,” Nailani reflected.
Angel Vue, who’s part of a Hmong dance group, is also determined to raise mental health awareness by sharing her artistry. Vue plans to showcase passion, energy and fun in her performance.
“I want to be someone who can support and listen,” Vue said. “I want everyone to know that finding something you love to do can help when you feel alone or stressed.”
The Art Fest, which runs from noon until 4 p.m., will be held in in Suite 1080 at 7000 Franklin Boulevard.