Walkers to observe Mental Illness Awareness Week

ALBANY, Ga. -- According to Jere Brands, president of the Albany National Alliance on Mental Illness, many people in the community are directly affected by mental illness and, on average, may be expected to die 25 years earlier than the rest of the population.

One reason for that, she says, is because less than one third of adults and one half of children with a diagnosed mental illness actually receive treatment. To raise awareness for those with mental illnesses, including major depression, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, members and friends of NAMI will participate in a NAMI Walk in Waycross on Saturday.

"The U.S. Surgeon General has reported that stigma is a major barrier to people seeking help when they need it," Brands said. "That's why MIAW is so important. We want people to understand mental illness and join a dialogue in our community. The more people know, the better they can help themselves or help their loved ones get the help and support they need."

According to Brands, The Waycross NAMI Walk is one of three in Georgia, the others scheduled for Rome on Saturday, and Atlanta on November 4. For more information call (229) 343-8791 or go to www.nami.org.

According to Albany NAMI, the SOWEGA Stigma Stompers, a team of members and friends of the organization will be offering rides to the event in Waycross Saturday. For information about joining or donating to the team, call (229) 343-8791 or go to http://namiwalks.nami.org/stompers12.

Registration for the Walk in Waycross will begin at 10 a.m. with registration at 9. The Walk is free with fundraising encouraged, Brands said.