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Artist paints mural to promote mental health awareness

"I wanted to do a piece on shining light into people's lives and looking in on people," said Russell Freeland.

AUSTIN, Texas — Boston. This is the city where artist Russell Freeland first picked up a paintbrush. 

"I did a lot of public art in Boston where I'm from, like, you know, over a decade ago," Freeland said. "And yeah, I'm trying to get some things going."

Now, he's painting murals here in Central Texas. Only this time ... there's a twist.

"I wanted to do a piece on, you know, shining light into people's lives, you know, and looking in on people," he added. 

Credit: KVUE

A great way to commemorate a special day.  

"It's mental health awareness week," Freeland said. "Actually, today is Mental Health Awareness Day. So, I wanted to have this prepared by today."

Psychologist Vanessa Rodriguez said more than 40% of adults had at least one mental or behavioral issue in the past three months. These numbers are proving the magnitude of the situation and the importance of raising awareness.  

"We hope to be able to start a conversation just about issues related to distress, emotional distress, and helping loved ones seek help when needed," Rodriguez said.

Credit: KVUE

Dr. Rodriguez said 20% of adults suffering from mental health issues were abusing substances to cope with the effects of the pandemic. Ten percent were considering suicide. 

"It's important to be able to let people know that it's OK to seek help," Rodriguez added. "It's OK to support loved ones who may be going through a moment of distress, and it's OK to be able to talk to a therapist and get the help that you need."

Even those we least expect could be going through a hard time.  

"Everybody has people in their lives that are ... that struggle," said Russell. "And I think it's incumbent on everybody to think about who might be struggling."

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