Back in April I posted this, about the NAMIWalk I was participating in here in Portland.
I was stunned at the outpouring of support I received for this event. Stunned and so grateful.
Clearly, there are more people concerned about fighting the stigma of mental illness than I first realized. After I posted, I had friends come to me and tell me about someone they knew who was living with mental illness, or about their own personal struggles with it.
Just like many physical illnesses, it isn't immediately apparent when someone is mentally ill. Your neighbor, co-worker, fellow parent on the playground, or acquaintance from church could be waging a silent war every single day, and you might never know it. It's easy to feel helpless, to wonder what you can possibly do to help. I know this; I spent four years trying to figure it out.
And then I learned more about NAMI.
NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) is the largest education, support, and advocacy organization that serves the needs of all those whose lives are touched by mental illness. This includes persons with mental illness, their families, friends, employers, the law enforcement community and policy makers. And NAMIWalks is an opportunity to raise money for the various chapters of NAMI nationwide.
I know many of my readers live in Utah. The Utah NAMIWalk is taking place in two weeks, on Sat. Sept. 24. Several members of my family are participating in this event, and I encourage any of you who feel so inclined to consider joining them. You don't have to join their team (although they'd probably welcome you with open arms); you can walk as an individual - it's what I did. But it's a great way to spend a morning and help fight the stigma of mental illness. (If you're not in Utah, you can always check here to find the date of the Walk in your area.)
It's not really a big deal. It doesn't take that much time. But there's a verse in the Book of Mormon that I've always loved: "...by small and simple things are great things brought to pass." (Alma 37:6) Walking 5K on a Saturday morning may not seem like much, but it's a step in the right direction, and together we can make a difference.