WESTFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) — The National Alliance on Mental Illness of Western Massachusetts held its 23rd annual Walkathon Celebration at Stanley Park in Westfield. On Sunday, folks laced up their shoes to support those on the journey of Hope and Recovery, which was also this year’s theme for the event.
22News Anchor Rich Tettemer was at the front of the line during the Walkathon as the National Alliance on Mental Illness’s(NAMI) Grand Marshal. NAMI is the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness.
“So, the goal today is to get out, have people have fun and to learn more about mental health, and to help stop the stigma,” said Cathy Rogers, the Operations Manager for NAMI of Western Massachusetts.
Every year during the month of May, NAMI joins the national movement to raise awareness about mental health. They believe that together, we can fight the stigma, provide support, educate the public, and advocate for policies that support the millions of people in the U.S. affected by mental illness.
“We want them to know that we are the beacon of light, and that we’re there for western Mass, however they need help,” added Rogers.
One in five adults experience mental illness each year and less than half of them receive treatment. This walkathon creates a safe space for conversations surrounding mental health and the multitude of resources readily available for those dealing with a mental illness.
“Let’s stop putting a stigma on mental health and substance use treatment. It ravages our entire community. It is everywhere we go, and walk, and live,” expressed Hampden County Sherriff Nick Cocchi, “Therefore, let’s bond together, let’s corral everyone together and put a hand of help out, so we can help them live the life that not only want, but they deserve.”
NAMI here in western Massachusetts is always on the move, providing support for individuals of all ages and their families.