Utahns walk in support of those facing mental illness, raise more than $80,000

Posted at 7:50 PM, Sep 06, 2014

SALT LAKE CITY – A walk held in Utah aimed to raise awareness and funds for people affected by mental illness and their families, and more than 1,000 people participated.

According to their website, NAMIWalks Utah 2014 has raised $82,902 of their $100,000 goal as of about 7:30 p.m. Saturday night.

The 5K walk began at 10 a.m. at Liberty Park, and many who participated have personal experiences with mental health issues.

Robyn Emery lives with depression, and she said the National Alliance on Mental Illness helps many people.

“NAMI saved my life,” she said. “It saved my daughter's life, because my daughter is the one that got me involved in NAMI, and she was going down a really bad path.”

The group can help people connect with others who understand their struggles, Emery said.

“I've met the most incredible people through NAMI and at NAMI that I have met in my entire life, some of my best friends,” she said.

Emery said she suffers from depression and she has two children who deal with mental illness, one who has bipolar disorder and another who suffers from depression. She said NAMI helps lighten their load.

“It’s an incredible organization, and without them I don’t know if I would have gotten through it,” she said.

Michael Jones is the president of NAMI in Davis County, and he said people suffering from mental illness often don’t get the same support as those suffering from other things.

“If one of our neighbors is diagnosed with cancer, there is a line of people outside their door with casseroles,” he said. “If they are diagnosed with schizophrenia, people don’t know how to react to that. At the moment that's changing, and that has to continue to change.”

Jones said the walk helps to facilitate that change so people don’t have to struggle with some of the confusion that often comes with dealing with mental illness.

“Not knowing where to get help, where to go next, not knowing what resources are available--the goal of NAMI is to close that gap and make all those resources available,” he said.

Mary Burchett is the NAMI Walk manager, and she said they were grateful for the support Saturday.

“It’s great to see so many people out here being able to talk about mental health issues and raise awareness, and that really can save lives,” she said.

For more information about NAMI Walks in Utah and the fundraising effort, click here to visit their website.