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Burrell fundraiser targets mental health issues

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Gray icing and frown-face emoji top cupcakes and cookies at Burrell Behavioral Health’s second annual Depressed Cake Shop going on today at Park Central Square.

The bake sale will raise funds and awareness for mental illness education and suicide prevention, said Mandy Vela, Burrell’s community development coordinator.

Last year’s inaugural event collected $3,500 in donations. The goal is $5,000 this year, she said, and will help start a Burrell Foundation that will focus on suicide prevention and education.

Businesses and home bakers partnered with Burrell to donate the sweet treats for the fundraiser, including Alamo Drafthouse Cinemas LLC, B + B Boulangerie, MaMa Jean’s Natural Foods Market LLC, Ruby’s Market, Star Cakes Bakery, Tea Bar & Bites Bakery & Cafe LLC and The Urban Cup LLC.

Vela said many young home bakers stepped up to donate this year, adding, “They feel connected to this theme. They see people at their school facing these challenges.”

The event is part of National Suicide Prevention Month. One in four people will experience or be affected by a mental health issue in their lifetime, Vela said, and more than half of adults won’t receive treatment.

“Access to treatment has historically been a huge issue in this country,” she said, noting Burrell recently opened an access center at its main campus, 1300 E. Bradford Parkway, that’s available to anyone in crisis.

Across 17 counties in southwest Missouri, Burrell serves 40,000 clients, most of which face some kind of mental illness, said Burrell spokesman Matt Lemmon. The Missouri Division of Behavioral Health’s latest data shows 21 percent of adults in southwest Missouri have a mental illness, with 7.8 percent having at least one “major depressive episode” in the past year, which is defined as an “extended period of depressed mood, loss of interest or pleasure and impaired functioning.”

The Depressed Cake Shop is part of a global movement that began in Europe to host pop-up bakeries to eliminate the stigma surrounding mental health issues, Vela said.

The bake sale runs until 8 p.m. and in the event of rain, the sellers will move inside the nearby Park Central Branch of the Springfield-Greene County Library.

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