Fountain City Brass Band plays concert to benefit mental health programs

It's a universal language, and on Sunday, music was used to tackle a growing problem.

The Fountain City Brass Band put on a benefit concert at UMKC to raise money for mental health programs and an upcoming conference.

The music is loud and brash and bold. In many ways, this music is the exact opposite of mental illness.

"This is a real problem," said Carol Roder-Esser, "and people suffer with this every day."

Roeder-Asser works with Johnson County's Mental Health Center.

"Today," she said, "we hope we make people more aware that mental health is an issue that we want everyone to feel comfortable talking about."

It's one of the reasons The Fountain City Brass Band played its signature music for an hour and a  half.

"Mental health issues," said Dr. Lee Harrelson, "affect people on various levels."

He gestured towards the concert hall where he was about to perform at the Olson Performing Arts Center. "This is just a bigger platform.  It's not just students, it's the community, and something we support, and we're happy to be a part of it."

Roeder-Esser added, "we want to make people aware of the issues facing mental health. Many of the things we see are very sensational." She described the church shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas, and the mass shooting at a country concert in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Roeder-Esser said are some of the worst manifestations of mental illness

"There are people who may be mildly depressed, or mildly anxious," she said. "These issues range, and actually, if we treat people when they are having more minor mental health issues, it's much easier than if we wait until they become major issues."

Because with early interventions, Roeder-Esser said, things don't have to escalate. But, like attending a concert, people only can grasp the message by listening for it.

Several mental health organizations are planning a conference for May; you can find more details here. This concert will raise money for that conference.

And the Fountain City Brass Band, which is the reigning US Brass Band Open Champion, is about to embark on an 18 day trip to England and Scotland, where it will compete against several other groups.