Building Mental Health Awareness with a 5k

For the past four years, I’ve participated in To Write Love On Her Arms’ annual Run For It 5k to raise awareness on mental health issues. This year I participated with old friends who also wanted to support mental health advocacy.

runforit5k2
This particular 5k is unique because it is “virtual” which means you can participate from wherever you are in the world. So my friends and I decided to host a meet-up for the 5k in our hometown. This was my first year participating with other people and I LOVED it! I’ve always taken comfort in knowing that when I’ve run in the past, I’m running with people around the world, wherever and whoever they are. But I’ll admit, being able to talk about mental health with friends and pound some pavement felt really great.

A little bit about mental health
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), one in five Americans lives with some form of mental illness. That’s 20% of the population, or roughly 65 million people in the United States! So why does having a mental illness feel so isolating? Why don’t we feel comfortable talking about it? Why do many people assume it’s not “real”? To people living with a mental illness, I can assure you, it is very real. It can feel stifling or suffocating, crippling or terrifying, chaotic or uncontrolled, surreal or unclear.

 
Learning about or understanding mental illness can help us to erase the stigma associated with talking about it. So let’s talk! Let’s educate ourselves. Take a look at these infographics below from NAMI.
NAMI MH facts
Infographic courtesy of the National Alliance on Mental Illness
In the news
In March 2018, Congress released an appropriations package, which was subsquently passed, that will provide greater investment in services for individuals with mental illness. The investments will increase research within the National Institute of Mental Health and will support programs within the Departments of Housing and Urban Development, Veterans Affairs, and Justice. runforit5k3

What you can do
While Congress has appropriated funding to mental health research and supportive services, you might be wondering what you can contribute to mental health advocacy. There’s no right or wrong answer, so feel free to get creative! You can promise to listen and answer questions about mental health with patience and kindness; you can call out stigmatizing behavior when you see it; you can share info on your social media channels; or commit to reading through these infographics and learning more!…The list goes on and on.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read about an issue that’s important to me and others.
NAMI MH facts contdNAMI MH facts contd2

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