TYLER, TX (KLTV) - The "OK to Say" program of East Texas is reaching out to key figures of the community to help break the stigma of mental illness.
Doug and Mo McSwane lost their son in 2012. Patrick McSwane, 29, took his own life after a long battle with schizophrenia.
"He was a popular kid, he was starting point guard at All Saints. We had kids over at the house all of the time. We had what we thought was just teenage rebellion," his parents say.
"We remained silent," Patrick's father, Doug McSwane says.
The McSwane family partnered with the "OK to Say" campaign after they realized they were not alone.
"When you have a loved one with a mental illness, your words are completely taken from you and you realize pretty quickly, we were dealing with something much bigger," Patrick's sister, Marcie McSwane says.
The organization hopes to change the perception of mental illnesses.
"Feeling free to come out and talk about this and say this is what I'm struggling with, there is a lot of power when you talk about these things," says Tami Anders, Samaritan Counseling Center counselor.
Three out of every four Texans has a friend or family member that has experienced a mental illness issue, and it's time to speak up.
Smith County Deputy David Biggs joined the movement to better understand the mentally ill. He now advocates and offers access to community services for treatment.
"The more you talk about it, the more we're able to deal with things and it shows less stigmatism on what we have," Biggs says.
By making it OK to say, people who are struggling can finally feel comfortable speaking out and find the help they're looking for.
If you or a loved one is dealing with mental illness, be sure to reach out to your local counseling services.