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These Bands Know Mental Health Is Serious Business

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The Walk for Mental Health Awareness Houston is a nonprofit organization that hosts events to, as the name implies, raise awareness for mental-health issues in the Houston area.

This is an issue that is close to my heart, so I'm happy to report that The Walk will be hosting a benefit show called Rockin' For a Cause tomorrow night at Fitzgerald's featuring Mellow Riot, Cassette Tape, Soul Creatures, Handsomebeast and the Trimms.

This is an important show for a number of reasons. First, let's talk about the cause. Why is The Walk hosting a rock show at Fitz? It's just one more way to reach out to the masses and help raise money to get mental-health help for those who need it and to eliminate the stigma that surrounds it.

Speaking from personal experience, mental-health issues are largely discredited in our society. According to the Kim Foundation, a whopping 26.2 percent of adults over the age of 18 are affected; in fact, there is still this idea that they are less relevant to the sufferer than a physical illness. Employers have little patience for workers taking sick days because of depression or anxiety. Friends and family tell you to just get better, be more positive or to get over it, failing to understand the seriousness of the illness.

But mental-health issues are real and debilitating. I'll never forget the day when I was six years old and I first learned of the ones my mother suffered from. As a child, I could hardly comprehend what was going on, only that she didn't appear to pick me up from school. When my dad pulled up hours late, I learned that she would be going to a hospital.

This was a recurring nightmare throughout my childhood. My mother suffers from schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, a combination that has led our family through many dark times: hospital stays, medication experiments while looking for a cocktail that could get her through the day, and complete breakdowns that tore my heart to pieces as a young child.

I saw the difficulty she had in receiving treatment firsthand, as my family was never very well off. I saw her struggle to get around financial and insurance limitations just to get the help she needed. I also saw the stigma that The Walk is fighting against.

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How could I explain all this to my friends? How could my mother explain it to her friends and family? While suffering through her own private hell, I watched so many friends and loved ones walk out of my mother's life, choosing to blame her rather than even attempt to understand her illness. I saw her abused by people because in polite society, we simply don't discuss these issues.

This must stop, and The Walk is working to put an end to that. That's what Rockin' for a Cause is all about.

Even if you're not passionate about the issue, however, this is going to be a great show. Mellow Riot heads it up with their blend of beach-bum funk-rock and folk, promising it's the last opportunity to see the band "as you know it." The band hasn't specified what that means, but I'm going to say that if you like their music, you should probably go find out.

Meanwhile, openers Soul Creatures are one of the most grooving funk-rock bands in town, with the kind of soaring Motown vocals that make this genre so thrilling. Handsomebeast is a bit more on the rocking side and guaranteed to make the room bounce and the floor shake. Rocks Off has told you about the mellow souls in Cassette Tape a few times, most recently here. And, last, if you've ever wondered what a ten-minute jam version of the Dolly Parton classic "Jolene" would sound like, look no further than the Trimms, who won my heart forever by making that a reality.

Whether you go for the cause or the bands, it will cost you $10 online and $12 at the box office. All proceeds from ticket sales will go to The Walk for Mental Health Awareness, and will continue their wonderful work, while you get to rock out and drink some beers. It's a win-win for everyone.

Rockin' For a Cause takes over Fitzgerald's Thursday night; doors open at 8 p.m. Click this link for donation information.

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