WILKES-BARRE — “Recovery” was the word of the day Sunday at the 12th annual National Alliance on Mental Illness Walk.
This year’s theme was “Walk today, recovery every day.”
Approximately 300 gathered at the Guard Insurance parking lot Sunday for the walk across the Market Street Bridge to attend a mental health fair at Kirby Park.
Participants clad in fluorescent green T-shirts that read “Recovery” lauded NAMI for its support of those challenged by mental illness and their families. They also celebrated recovery and enjoyed socializing with other participants.
“One in four people have been personally affected by mental illness,” Joe Fedak, Warrior Run, said. “Those are the people we want to reach and encourage.”
Fedak emphasized the purpose of NAMI and other community organizations in assisting those with mental illness. He credited the family-to-family program, the In Our Own Voice Program and support groups with carrying the message to the community and enriching the lives of those who suffer.
Beth Hollinger, director of crisis services at Community Counseling Services, Wilkes-Barre, said the walk and the organization help spread the message that “recovery is not just a possibility, it’s a reality.”
Linda Arnold knows the reality and was quick to point out mental illness can happen to “common people.” She values community members and organizations who have made recovery possible.
She also enjoys the walk as an opportunity to catch up with friends.
“Members love it and look forward to it every year,” said Jerri Sydlo, certified peer specialist at Northeast Counseling.
Glenda Race, participant and NAMI member, said, “The people of NAMI have given me support when I felt hurt and confused, education about my disorder, and advocacy when I was afraid to speak out.”
“Someone suggested I go to a family-to-family meeting when I was at the worst of the worst,” said one mother of someone challenged by mental illness. “I did, and when I walked out I knew that I was no longer alone.”
NAMI stresses those with mental illness can lead full, productive lives. It also emphasizes the role of the family of those with mental illness.
The organization provides support to the entire family to make long-term recovery possible. It also provides information about community resources to address problems those with mental illness often face, including housing and financial challenges.
Hollinger, looking out over those happily preparing for the walk, said simply, “We need to stop the stigma of those with mental illness.”
Those interested in obtaining information on NAMI services can call 371-3844 or access the NAMI website at http: namipawilkes-barre.tripod.com.