Annual walk aims to break "the stigma"

9:13 PM, Sep 29, 2013   |    comments
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SOUTH PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- It is estimated that 1 in 4 American adults suffer from a mental illness each year -- but when you ask those affected, or their family members, you'll hear how there is still a stigma on mental illness.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness hosted their 11th annual walk on Sunday at Southern Maine Community College. 

As the fog slowly rolled out to the sea -- friends and relatives began "marking" their in support, writing the names of people affected by mental illness on runners' bibs.

"Amy is my goddaughter."

Everyone is walking for someone impacted by mental illness which often includes themselves.

"My impact to mental illness actually started 40 years ago," says Kelly Peaco. "My father struggled with mental illness and died by suicide at that time and 12 years ago my daughter experienced depression and has been struggling since."

Peaco heard about NAMI from her brother, and signed her family up for a class called Family to Family.

"It provides a lot of information of how to support a loved one and still being able to cope in a productive way yourself."

Whether it's through classes, support groups, or education -- NAMI's mission is to create a community of understanding to break the stigma around mental illness, and provide the best possible services to those suffering from them. Including this annual gathering to provide some healthy support.

"Embracing humor as healthy. I know that's one I lean on," says one of the walkers. 

"It's a road just like any illness and it's important for those suffering to receive that compassion in order to get better," says Peaco.

Facing mental illness head on by saying it out loud.

"I will walk for my son and my family," said one walker. "I will walk for autism and NAMI Bangor," said another.

"I walk for team Peace for Liz," said two friends. "Lets end the stigma."

If you or someone you know is showing signs of extreme anxiety, depression, and suicidal impulse then please call the Maine Crisis Hotline, that number is 1-888-568-1112.

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