Organization walks for mental illness awareness

Skyllarr Trusty

For the 12th consecutive year, NAMI plans to walk all over the stigma attached to mental illness.

In Audubon Park on Oct. 11, the National Alliance on Mental Illness’s NAMIWalks program will celebrate its fifth year in the city of New Orleans.

“It is a tremendous tool for raising public awareness and overcoming the stigma that traditionally surrounds mental illness and raising funds for local education and support programs,” Bob Corolla, director of media relations for NAMI, said.

This year, the New Orleans walk will take place on the final day of Mental Illness Awareness Week, which includes events like National Depression Screening Day.

Mass Communication Senior Sara Feldman said she got involved with the cause because it makes her comfortable living with a mental illness.

“I haven’t taken part in NAMI’s services directly, but as someone with panic disorder and depression, I think its wonderful to have an organization like NAMI,” Feldman said. “A public group makes it easier to feel comfortable in my mental illness.”       

As the founder and project leader for Student Advocates on Mental Illness, Feldman said she strives to provide education about mental illness to the Loyola population, which includes participating in the annual walk.

“I think mental illness is something that is very easily and very often ignored, and having such a large scale event can really bring people’s awareness to it,” Feldman said.

As the daughter of two psychiatrists, Feldman has viewed firsthand various mental illnesses and negative views toward sufferers.

In regards to the NAMIwalks program in particular, Feldman said she has seen the positive effects on a personal level.

“With individuals, I’ve seen a positive change in that they feel better having such a large group of people supporting them,” Feldman said. “It’s a happy event. You don’t go and it’s just some somber thing — I think such a negativity can be attached to mental illness, but the NAMI walk is a happy event and there’s a lot of support, love and caring.”