OPELOUSAS, La. (KLFY) – A local advocate working to bridge the differences between the community and law enforcement when it comes to mental health awareness. 

Eric Williams is working to erase or at least ease the stigma when it comes to mental health struggles inside his community as well as the people who work to protect it. He is bringing his mental health fight to the forefront, hoping to bridge a certain gap between the community and law enforcement. 

“I want people to understand it is ok to have a problem. It is ok to admit you need help. You can still make a difference,” says Williams. He openly admits to dealing with his own mental health battles but boldly says it does not define who he is and what he can do. “We truly believe people with disabilities and mental illnesses can contribute to society,” says Williams.

He is taking his message straight to his peers. “We believe we make a difference and we are taking away all excuses,” says Williams.

It’s not just about community but also law enforcement. Williams wants those who wear the badge to know and understand not all situations are the same. “We can work together. Too many times, there is a negative light dealing with people with mental illness. They are there to do their job,” Williams says. 

Williams hopes together they can make certain situations a little less scary for all those involved. Williams continues, “I had a mental health relapse once. Because of backlog, they knew how to handle the situation. It could have been worse. We need to open up more.”