Newest mural ‘reminds people there is hope’, honors life of man who died after mental health battle

jacksonville, florida – A new mural to combat the stigma surrounding mental illness debuted in San Marco on the birthday of a man who died after battling mental health issues.

The nonprofit Hearts4Minds has unveiled its latest masterpiece, which includes a dragonfly design, as part of its “Meaningful Murals” program.

Sherrill Johnson is the founder of the nonprofit, which inspired the effort after her son Alex Newman died of a fentanyl overdose in 2018.

She said Newman was struggling with a mental health battle.

Alex Newman (left) (Courtesy of family)

“It’s about honoring him in life and reminding people that there is hope,” Johnson said.

The dragonfly design reminds Johnson of her son after it became a symbol of this mission.

“He loved the water. He was in the water at home. He loved riding motocross. I love to cook,” Johnson said of his son.

David Nakashi designed and painted the mural.

Nakashi said that those who pose in front of the dragonfly have a special vision.

“For them to be highlighted. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a mural, but it helps outline the individual. That’s the point,” Nakashi said.

Neumann was supposed to turn 29 on Saturday. After his unveiling, his birthday party was held at Bali Park.

Mary Dreggers attended a party at a mental health counselor.

“I think as a society, we’ve moved into a new way of thinking about mental health, especially mental health and addiction awareness, and the opioid epidemic,” Dreggers said. “We kind of realized that ignoring things and marginalizing them would only accumulate stigma.”

That’s why the Dreggors advocate talking and spreading information about mental health and its stigma.

Johnson said Hearts4Minds aims to:

  • De-stigmatizing mental illness

  • talk about it and its struggles

  • Promoting mental health education and literacy, including suicide prevention courses

  • Connect people to resources and treatments

Ultimately, nonprofits want people to know they matter.

Ambitious quote written on the sidewalk by Hearts4Minds (WJXT)

The mural is the 11th mural to be painted throughout Jacksonville, and the 12th will be unveiled Friday night at Cava and Company on Kings Avenue.

WJXT News4JAX Copyright 2023 – All rights reserved.

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