Taking steps to combat a stigma

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(Taking steps to combat a stigma)

NAMI’s  NAMIwalks seeks greater awareness for mental illness issues

“NAMIWalks is NAMI’s (National Alliance on Mental Illness) largest and most successful mental health awareness and fundraising event. In 2018, 80 NAMIwalks events raised nearly $11 million to support local programs and initiatives that improve the lives of persons affected by mental illness.” So says the NAMIWalks brochure for the NAMIwalks event taking place October 26 at the Diamond Valley Lake Marina, 2615 Angler Avenue, Hemet.

But NAMI and its NAMIWalks is more than fun events and fundraising—much more. Brenda Scott NAMI-San Jacinto Executive Director says it’s about raising awareness of mental heath issues, and about bringing mental health and wellness out of the shadows. 

And Brenda Scott speaks from experience.

“When I was 14, my mother died by suicide. As her children, we were all stunned, but nobody talked about it. Later on my brother Bryan, who began self-medicating by taking drugs to cope with his problems, also died by suicide. When my son was 6, I started to see some behaviors that were concerning. It was at a doctor’s office, completely by chance, that I picked up a NAMI brochure. The NAMI classes were immensely helpful in the process of recovery for my son. I’m happy and thankful to say my son is doing fine, but we must bring greater awareness to this issue  and work on eliminating the stigma associated with mental health,” says Scott.

As Scott took more classes with NAMI she got a job with the county as a family advocate and then she began teaching NAMI classes: she worked for various NAMI programs and eventually the program was able to hire her as Executive Director.  14 years ago Scott became the first manager of the NAMIWalks Inland Empire walk.

“Our goal this year is to raise $100,000.00. As of October 17 we have 68 teams with 500 participants and we are at 65% of our goal,” says an excited Scott.

As for the future, Scott says the goal remains the same: “To continue to raise awareness of mental health issues in the community and to reduce the stigma of mental health issues.”

Those interested in donating to NAMI, starting a NAMIWalks team, or volunteering to aid in NAMI’s important mission may do so by contacting Brenda Scott at namiwalksinlandempire@gmail.com

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