Local man spreads awareness for mental health with his car

Mental health advocate Gabriel Nathan uses his car to open up to strangers about mental health.

Nathan works as editor-in-chief of OC87 Recovery Diaries, a compilation of essays written by those struggling with mental health. He advocates for the cause and is able to teach others about the misconceptions of mental health.

Along with his writing, he also spreads awareness with the help of his car a 1963 VW Beetle named Herbie the Love Bug. Similar to the Disney movie of the same name. He says it's the perfect conversation starter.

"First, they want to talk about the car...and then, invariably, the next question is, 'so what do you do?'"

But Nathan does not stop there.

"The conversation always goes to mental health and people open up in a remarkable way 'my brother died by suicide, I live with anxiety and depression,'" Nathan said.

Gabriel often deliberately parks his Love Bug in busy areas to start up conversation with strangers. He has been approached by police dealing with job stress and strangers looking for an open ear.

"Everyone walking around has those stories. It's just a question of how are you going to open them up," Nathan said.

In this case, it is his car that teaches them that mental health is not something to be ashamed of.

"Stigma feeds on silence. And if you're telling your story and you're talking about mental illness, you're defeating that stigma just one little step at a time," Nathan said.


References and additional information can be found at www.ReportingOnSuicide.org.