The topic of mental health is in the spotlight this May, as several programs across our Valley work to fight the stigma centered around the topic. 

From awareness to education, a symposium centered on mental health in Niles featured former NBA player Metta Artest as a guest speaker. 21 News spoke with him at a meet and greet on why his focus is on mental health and what he hopes to achieve with his message. 

"I've always wanted to travel and kind of take this message on the road," Artest said on Thursday. 

The Eastwood Mall hosted 'Unmute the Uncomfortable,' a discussion centered around breaking the stigma of mental health. The event was presented in partnership with Coleman Health Services and the Trumbull County Mental Health and Recovery Board. 

"It doesn't matter how much money you make, it doesn't matter what kind of job, it doesn't matter who you are," explained Suzette Miller, Director of Behavioral Health with Mercy Health. "Everybody is at risk."

Artest hopes he sends a message that everyone can be affected by their own mental health no matter who they are.

"Being an open book is a good thing," Artest said. "As an athlete, it can be a gift or a curse. But as a human, some people need to hear the message."

"To bring high-profile people like Metta here is phenomenal," Miller explained. "Because it really highlights the fact that it does hit just anybody. Now that people are willing to talk about it, it's going to help our patients seek help better."

The trend continues in the NBA. Other players including Kevin Love have also made their personal platform centered around the importance of mental health. A discussion Artest hopes continues.

"It's really good for people to hear," Artest said. "You get new guys including Kevin Love [talking about mental health]. These guys are fresh in their prime talking about how they have issues, I could take a little rest for a bit and it was good to see."

Artest also has a book titled 'No Malice.' He wrote candidly about his life on and off the court, from his difficult upbringing to his time as a star athlete.