ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — Talking about mental health can be difficult, but one Rockford woman is starting the conversation.
Lesly Martinez, owner of “Love Your Mental,” has donated nearly $4,000 to mental health non-profits. A daughter of refugees from Laos, she uses every opportunity she can to give back.
“I created a little pin called ‘Mind Your Mental,’ and that allowed me to be my first project,” Martinez said
Martinez was able to raise $1,000 for the National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI) in Northern Illinois in just two months. After losing two close friends at the age of 13, it was difficult to find resources to help with the healing process.
“Saying like, ‘hey, mental health is important in our culture’ is huge,” Martinez said. “A lot of Asian cultures can relate that we don’t talk about mental health. It’s suppressed. We have this, you know, ‘don’t talk about it and kind of move on with your day’ mentality, and we need to break that stigma.”
A graduate of Rockford’s East High School, Martinez is an ICU nurse. She used art as a way to escape from stress during the pandemic.
“Whether it’s art therapy, music therapy, whether you like to play sports, you like to cook, you like to just go on a walk, pet therapy… there’s some form of stress relief for you,” she said.
Martinez’s doodles turned into “Love Your Mental,” a mental health advocacy brand. The products donate a percentage back to non-profits, from NAMI to Marshmallow’s Hope.
“As a Laotian American, I don’t see a lot of representation for my minority. I never thought I would be where I am today and to have this small platform for people to know me,” Martinez said. “I’m really proud to just represent. I think it’s honestly needed.”
“Love Your Mental” will be hosting a resource event benefiting the “988 Suicide and Crisis Hotline” on July 30. Admission for the event at 420 N. Main Street will be free. It will run from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
A new survey found that most adults in the U.S. said that they still have not heard of the hotline.
The program launched in July, but only 13% of adults are aware of the hotline, according to the “PEW Charitable Trust” survey.
The service is intended to connect mental health crisis counselors with people who call or text the three-digit number. The survey also found that about 70% said that they were likely to use the service once they learned about it.
Others were concerned that calling the number may result in law enforcement response.