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Organizers hope walk brings awareness to mental health

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Even as advocates say conversations about mental health are becoming more productive and less taboo, it remains true that those who deal with mental health issues often face a stigma that discourages honest discussion and sometimes leaves them feeling alone in their fight.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness of Greater Indianapolis (NAMI) will host its second annual NAMI Walks event as a reminder that mental health isn’t something to gloss over with token, surface-level attention. The free walk is 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Oct. 19 at Broad Ripple Park, 1500 Broad Ripple Ave. Check-in starts at 9 a.m. Register online at namiwalks.org.

The Indianapolis walk is one of almost 100 happening around the country, and each event has a fundraising goal. Indianapolis participants raised about $22,500 as of Oct. 7. The goal, which organizers raised because of an early surge in money, is $35,000.

Samantha Brinkman, chairman of NAMI in Indianapolis, said it was important to start this event last year to show the community how much the movement around mental health has grown. With that, NAMI has also grown.

“We felt this event would be a good way to show that growth to the community and have the community be part of that growth,” she said.

It’s important for people dealing with mental health issues to see each other, reinforcing that they’re not alone, Brinkman said. But it’s also an opportunity to recognize advocates and caregivers.

Last year, NAMI honored advocates and caregivers with awards, and Brinkman said the organization will do something similar this year at the closing ceremony.

Mental health has been part of the national narrative recently following two mass shootings in Ohio and Texas, but Brinkman said that wasn’t a good example of the way people should talk about mental health.

Many, including President Donald Trump, implied there’s a link between violence and mental health. Brinkman said it’s easy to say people who commit acts of violence are “crazy,” which plays into the negative stereotype of people who have mental health issues.

According to data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, only 3-5% of violent acts can be attributed to people living with a serious mental health illness such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. People with a serious mental health illness are 10 times more likely than the general population to be victims of a violent crime. 

Contact staff writer Tyler Fenwick at 317-762-7853. Follow him on Twitter @Ty_Fenwick.

NAMI WALKS

The National Alliance on Mental Illness of Greater Indianapolis (NAMI) will host its second annual NAMI Walks event to show support for those struggling with mental health and honor advocates.

• When: 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Oct. 19. Check-in begins at 9 a.m. 

• Where: Broad Ripple Park, 1500 Broad Ripple Ave.

• Register: namiwalks.org

NAMI Walks, put on by the National Alliance on Mental Illness, raises money for advocacy work and brings together people are affected by mental health issues. (Photo provided)

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