Nuçi’s Space Works to Destigmatize Mental Illness

On the corner of Williams and Oconee streets, people walking by often catch the sound of music filtering from the recognizable blue brick building. Nuçi’s Space looks like a recording studio and concert venue at first glance, but behind its long-standing walls, the nonprofit is working to destigmatize mental illness. 

Carrie Smith, director of student care and outreach at UGA, said people have become more comfortable talking about mental health issues, but there is still a stigma around seeking help. 

[People] feel so comfortable talking about their mental health that they don’t do anything about it,” Athens musician James Stickney said. 

Linda Phillips opened the studio in honor of her son and musician Nuçi Phillips, who took his life in 1996 after struggling with depression. 

Since opening, Nuçi’s offers counseling programs, support groups, medical clinics and suicide prevention training.

The prevention training, also called QPR, teaches people to question, persuade and refer. The training allows people to recognize signs of mental crises and seek help.

In addition to its mission of bringing visibility to mental illness, Nuçi’s Space provides affordable rehearsal space and rental equipment to its musicians, creating an obstacle-free environment to practice music. 

 “We have a lot of people out there that have been great listening agents for their friends, and people do want to talk about it,” Smith said, “[But] what’s step two? So then what do I do for the person that shares with me that they’re struggling?”

Clay Britton and Olivia Wakim are fourth-year journalism majors at the University of Georgia. 

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