Virtual Barktober Fest sheds light on mental illness

Project Support hosts combine pets and mental health to bring awareness

ROANOKE, Va. – Calling all pups, dog moms and dog dads — the 3rd annual Barktober Fest is virtual this year and starts Sunday, Oct. 25.

The online festival is hosted by Project Support, a nonprofit helping those suffering from mental illness find and pay for treatment.

Barktober Fest is usually Project Support’s fundraiser, but this year it will be free and all on Facebook.

From Oct. 25 to Oct. 31, Barktober Fest will feature multiple dog costume contests where people can upload photos, demonstrations from pet businesses and organizations as well as mental health professionals. The online festival will also include shelters spotlighting adoptable pets.

Project Support’s executive director Kayla Gobble told 10 News despite being completely online this year, the festival will still bring awareness to mental health especially in times like this.

“We’ve all had down days. Whether you have a severe mental illness or you just have days that you’re feeling down we want that to be talked about more. We want that stigma to go away for mental illness and mental health in general and pets are a great way to do that,” said Gobble.

Barktober Fest isn’t the only thing Project Support has had to adjust due to the pandemic. When mental health services moved to telehealth the nonprofit had to and is still helping clients transition.

“A lot of what we’ve been doing right now is providing cell phone services for them (clients) to be able to access their clinicians and anyone they need to talk to," said Gobble.

You can donate to Project Support here.

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