Kansans fight stigma around mental health with 5k walk

People from across Kansas met at Topeka West High School to raise awareness about mental health today.
Published: May. 20, 2023 at 7:20 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - The National Alliance on Mental Illness, or NAMI, is encouraging Kansans to have hard conversations about mental health and take action to fight the stigma that surrounds it with a 5k walk today.

Many of those who participated felt compelled to join because of first-hand experience with mental illness, either personally or with loved one.

Joanie Underwood attended today’s event, she got involved with NAMI after witnessing a family member struggle with their own mental health:

“I had a family member who had a severe mental illness,” said Underwood. “She struggled off-and-on for many years. We were able, through the help of NAMI, to get her the help that she needed and the support that she needed.”

NAMI takes a community-based approach to supporting people battling mental illness and their families. It offers a variety of resources ranging from free educational programs to 5k walks for awareness, like the one today.

Spokespersons for NAMI say that those with a mental illness(s) often struggle to find the resources to help themselves recover or alleviate their symptoms.

“When you’re looking for resources, sometimes it’s just like ‘well where do I find it?’ says Stacey Lyddon, who helped organize the walk. “And that’s why we’re here, that’s why we do what we do. It’s for the people and the people in those communities.”

NAMI is already active in several Kansas counties but hopes to partner with all 105 in the future.