Some Memphians with mental health issues to have artwork displayed in Nashville

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Several Memphians with mental illnesses are preparing to travel to Nashville to display artwork and raise awareness.

Tennessee's Art for Awareness is preparing to celebrate its 10th year. It is an event where people with mental illness or a history of substance abuse display their art in Legislative Plaza during April and May. It is meant to raise awareness for those who are struggling and celebrating those who are trying to overcome.

Levert Douglas, 43, has been dealing with paranoid schizophrenia, bipolar, and depression for years. He said his first trip to the hospital was after he tried marijuana in his late 20s. It messed with his mind, and he could not focus.

"I haven't been in the hospital for three years as of March," Douglas said. He painted a picture of eyes and hearts for the display.

"What I say is, in those eyes, are my sights of goodness, of what I loved about life," Douglas said.

Memphis had several incidents this week where people with mental health issues experienced crises and acted violently. Meanwhile, Douglas and four other people who utilize services from "Turning Point" on Summer Avenue are celebrating how far they have come in managing their conditions. The organization is a social support for people with mental health issues.

The artists will bring their artwork to Nashville Wednesday. After the artwork is presented, the Tennessee Coalition for Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services will hold an event where people from the community can speak with legislators about the mentally ill community's needs.