NAMI spreads mental health awareness message to Topeka students before 5k fundraiser

The Jones Project joins NAMI to tell kids they are not alone
13 News at Six
Published: May. 19, 2023 at 6:58 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Ahead of NAMI’s annual walk for mental health at Topeka West High School, the non-profit is encouraging a conversation about mental health among Topeka West students.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness joined alongside The Jones Project’s executive director Damon Parker to talk to Topeka West High School students about mental health and shared three important things with the students: ‘You are not alone in your feelings, you are not alone in this fight, and there is hope.’

“We tell them three things. There are three critical steps,” said Parker. “Number 1 is that if you are struggling with your mental health — you are not alone in the way that you feel. Number 2 is ‘you are not alone in the fight.’ You have got people all around you. You just got to take the steps to help yourself. And then Number 3 is that there is hope, but you got to put in the work. This is not something that comes easy. If you are struggling with your mental health, it is going to take work just like anything that is worth having in your life.”

Parker has traveled nationwide and visited about 80 schools to chat about suicide prevention and mental health awareness. Parker has seen during his tour that kids are more open than they have been in the past about their mental health, which has changed following the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Times are changing, and kids are a lot more willing to talk about this nowadays than they used to be,” said Parker. “Like just the conversations that I have had with kids through this and through teaching the last few years — it’s a different world out there than it was five years ago. Kids are getting all on the same page, and we are just trying to make that pendulum swing a little faster.”

On Saturday, May 20, the high school will the ‘NAMIwalks Kansas’ to raise money for awareness about mental health. Registration for the walk opens at 8:30 a.m., with the five-k beginning at 10 a.m.

NAMI’s goal is to reach $200,000 this year for anyone needing mental health services, reduce the stigma associated with mental health, and build a community network. NAMIwalks Kansas is sponsored by CareSource.

NAMI organizers visited WIBW’s red couch newscast to promote the event. Click HERE to view the interview.