In April 2015 my mother passed away. She struggled with mental illness and addiction her entire life. As I was thinking of a way for me and my family to remember and honor her, I thought about us walking across Gahanna and sharing stories and memories of her. Then I had an ‘aha’ moment.
The thing about mental illness is that so many people suffer in silence – whether it is the person who struggles with the illness or family and friends who are also affected. While the walk would be meaningful for me and my family, why walk alone?
According to the World Health Organization, 1 in 4 people will be affected by mental health or neurological disorders at some point in their lives. The number of people who have been personally impacted by these brain disorders is staggering. Many people never seek the help and treatment they need due to fear, stigma, discrimination, etc. But it doesn’t have to be this way.
When groups of people come together it makes it less scary, less isolating, and in turn pushes back against the stigma. People frequently share their physical struggles but will often hide in shame with their emotional and mental hurdles. These conversations need to happen and have the potential to save lives.
So let’s start talking. And walking. I hope you join me.