Active Minds and the Behavioral Science Association at Northwest Missouri State University will host “I Will Listen,” an event aimed at reducing stigmas surrounding mental illness and promoting discussions about mental health disorders.

The event, which is free and open to the public, is 1 to 3 pm, Wednesday, April 7, in the JW Jones Student Union Boardroom. Attendees will be required to follow Northwest’s mitigation rules during all activities.

The event will include short yoga, Zumba and meditation sessions along with an art exhibit inviting community members to express their experiences with mental health.

“We are trying to make sure we are addressing multiple areas of wellness because we know when our bodies are well our minds are well, and when our spirit is well our mind is well,” said Elizabeth Dimmitt, a senior instructor of psychology in the school of health science and wellness.

Attendees will also learn coping mechanisms and participate in open discussions about mental health challenges. Speakers will discuss experiences with mental health disorders and ways to regulate well-being. Speakers include Kristen Peltz, assistant director of wellness services; Anthony Williams, a lieutenant with the University Police; Dr. Rebecca Moore, an assistant professor of professional education; and Monica Zeigel, Northwest’s Hope-4-All coordinator.

“The over-arching goal is to create a community that’s aware that we all struggle with mental wellness,” Dr. Amy Barton, an assistant professor of psychology said. “That’s something that touches all of our hearts and all of us personally.”

Community members interested in showcasing their work in the art exhibit may submit drawings, paintings, graphic designs, pottery, sculpture, photography, mixed medium work or poetry.

Additionally, age groups are encouraged to submit artwork based on a variety of themes consisting of healing and feeling for artists in kindergarten through fourth grade, how to deal or cope with internal struggles for middle school students, and artwork centered on mental health struggles, mental health stigmas, mental health journeys and wellness for high school students, Northwest students and employees, and community members. Prizes for first, second and third places will be awarded in each age category.

All entries must include a title, brief description of meaning and process, with the creator’s name and school or affiliation printed neatly on the back of the work. A maximum of two artworks per person may be submitted.

Sculptures may be submitted via email as a photo of the completed piece with the dimensions noted and a description; selected sculptors will be responsible for bringing their sculpture to the event.