LAKE JACKSON — The one thing Elizabeth McIngvale wanted the audience to walk away from the Brazoria County Association for Citizens with Handicaps’ luncheon understanding was they should not shy away from helping those with mental disabilities.

The Thursday event at the Dow Academic Center at Brazosport College featured Elizabeth McIngvale speaking about her issues with mental illness and obsessive-compulsive disorder, as well as a pre-recorded video message from her father, Jim “Mattress Mack” McIngvale. Donations and dollars raised from the event are poured back into BACH’s children.

Mental health deserves to be talked about more regularly in our society, Elizabeth McIngvale said.

“What we have to remember is that mental illness is not physical,” she said. “But help and hope should be available for every single person. I am here to talk openly about mental illness, to change the stigma that well too often exists with this disease and for people to know no matter how much we struggle, we can have a purpose in life and we can have a meaningful life where we experience joy and happiness.”

When she was a teenager, McIngvale started to experience ritualistic moments where she would turn on light switches 42 times, wash her hands 42 times and sit in and out of bed 42 times, she said.

There was a point where she was lost and had it not been for her amazing, supportive family, she might not be where she is today, McIngvale said.

With McIngvale’s experience and expertise with obsessive-compulsive disorder, she hoped to educate Brazoria County attendees about being more empathetic, she said.

“Our family’s journey with mental illness has allowed us all to know why we are here on earth,” she said. “The purpose is to serve, the purpose is to exude sympathy and compassion when you don’t even know somebody needs it.”

Along with lunch and the speaker, BACH had an area set up with therapists to offer information about what types of therapy the organization offers and different children they help, therapist Michelle Burns said.

“The kids that we deal with have all sorts of different needs,” she said. “It’s all kind of intertwined. We just want to let everyone know exactly what we do.”

McIngvale ended her speech asking the crowd for a simple favor: to not shy away from helping those who suffer from mental disabilities.

“My pledge to you all is let’s view mental illness the way we view medical illness,” she said. “The reality is that treatment for mental illness exists.”

Connor Behrens is a reporter at The Facts. You can contact him at 979-237-0150.

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