News // May 05, 2014

Thousands Gather to Reduce Stigma of Mental Disorders at San Diego County NAMI Walk

On Saturday, May 3, 2014, a unique resource fair of 120 exhibitor booths drew thousands of San Diego County residents to NTC Park at Liberty Station to reduce stigma associated with mental health disorders.  The event was the 10th Annual San Diego County NAMI Walk, which was complemented this year by a Live Well San Diego health and wellness exposition.

NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, is the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for millions of Americans affected by mental illness.  NAMI has been an active community partner with the County of San Diego Health and Human Services Agency’s Behavioral Health Services (BHS) Division for many years.

Rather than hosting two separate public awareness events as they have done in the past - BHS joined with NAMI planners to create a larger, more diversified Live Well San Diego/NAMI Walk event. In addition to the NAMI Walk and resource fair, the County contributed an extensive client art exhibit, an interactive art mural project, live multi-cultural dancers, a children’s fun zone, a Veteran’s resource area and Color Guard, blood pressure screenings, organic food growers, and showcased numerous County agencies and Departments.

Alfredo Aguirre, Director of BHS, and Shannon Jaccard, CEO of NAMI San Diego, welcomed participants to the expanded public event.

Staff from the BHS exhibitor table also shared an important story about the impact of this event on the community:

“A couple with a schizophrenic son was in tears with relief at the breadth of resources available for mental health needs in San Diego County.  Since their young son has not been involved with the criminal justice system, the family had never accessed mental health resources through that gateway.  They were not aware of all the support available to them until they attended this community awareness event.”

People experiencing a mental illness can access services by calling the County’s Access and Crisis Line at 888-724-7240.  Resources are also available on the NAMI website or the It’s Up to Us website.

Visit County News Center for additional photos from the event.