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Music festival brings awareness to stigma associated with mental illness

EAST MOLINE, Illinois -- Hundreds of people spent their evening enjoying music, dancing, and raising money to help inspire an end to the stigma associated with mental illness today at the fourth annual Adam Fest at the Rock Island County Fairgrounds.

The music-festival and fundraiser began after Adam Smith ended his own life in July of 2012 at the age of 26, after a battle with depression and anxiety.

“He was a big fan of music and was a musician himself,” remembered Gloria Smith, Adam’s mother.

The day comprised of live music, raffles and other festivities is typically held on a Sunday. This year was the first time the festival was held on a Saturday and was also the first time the event was held at the Rock Island County Fairground.

Adam’s mom said she hopes this festival will encourage people to talk more about mental illness.

“It is just like any other illness,” she said. “It is just like cancer or diabetes and we need to talk more about it.”

Smith said there are not enough resources, research funds or conversations taking place surrounding the topic of mental health.

“Almost every family is affected by mental illness., she said. “I know myself, when Adam was sick, I didn’t talk about it because it was such a sensitive subject and we want that stigma to end” said Smith.

Money raised during Adam Fest gets split between the University of Iowa Hospital, the Robert Young Center and “Rock Island County Transitions.”

Smith encourages people to “reach out for help and talk about (mental illness)” to help prevent anyone from experiencing a loss like hers.