Psychologist aims to increase awareness of mental illness

Port Isabel-South Padre Press

This coming week, Oct. 2 – 8, is Mental Illness Awareness Week (MIAW) and one woman is determined to spread the word, raising awareness of mental illness while erasing the stigma around it. That woman is clinical psychologist Dr. Marsha Sargeant, who recently moved to the Laguna Madre region.

In 2014, she moved to the Rio Grande Valley from Los Angeles to work with the local Veterans Administration, but soon decided to strike out on her own in private practice. She found her way to the coast and, as she describes it, fell in love.

It didn’t take her long, however, to realize the need for more mental healthcare services in the Valley — Sargeant is one of just two mental health professionals in the Port Isabel area, and one of four psychologists in all of Cameron County. “I realized how little people know about mental health, how much stigma there is,” she said during an interview Tuesday.

Sargeant reached out to local representatives from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and set about making inroads to educating her newly adopted community on the benefits of mental healthcare in hopes of spurring long-term mental health advocacy.

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