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Mental health awareness walk to take place May 15

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People with mental health issues can become well again.

That is the message organizers of the ninth annual Mental Health Awareness Walk want to get across during the May 15 event, which will go from the Dulles State Office Building, 317 Washington St., to the Thompson Park pavilion.

“Recovery is the goal for everyone,” said Michelle A. Hobart, mental health advocate at the Northern Regional Center for Independent Living. “I’ve had some people come in who have been with treatment providers and have been lifelong consumers of service and they’ve been closed out of treatment because they had no measurable goals. If you’ve developed coping skills, you can access community support through the Mental Health Association in Jefferson County and NRCIL.”

She said there needs to be more education and outreach to both the public and mental health clients about recovery and wellness.

People with mental illness should not be defined by their diagnosis and should know they can get better, Mrs. Hobart said.

Kim Smith, NRCIL’s independent living program director, said a stigma about mental illness still exists, and people with mental illness often are judged just for having known mental issues.

“It’s really discrimination,” she said.

People can stop by the NRCIL office, 210 Court St., Suite 104, for more information.

The walk’s events will begin at 10 a.m. May 15 with a kickoff rally at the State Office Building, where Harvey Rosenthal, New York Association of Psychiatric Rehabilitation Services executive director, and Ms. Smith will speak. Following the walk, a noon lunch will be provided by Children’s Home of Jefferson County chef Chris Manning. Local band One Night Stand has volunteered to perform at the picnic celebration.

A response by those planning to attend the event is requested by calling the agency at 785-8703. People also can request accommodations, if necessary.

The walk during Mental Health Awareness Month has been planned by NRCIL, Samaritan Medical Center, the North Country Children’s Clinic, the Children’s Home of Jefferson County, the Mental Health Association in Jefferson County, Transitional Living Services of Northern New York, the Cerebral Palsy Association of the North Country, Credo Community Center for the Treatment of Addictions and Jefferson County Community Services.

Each walk participant will receive a bandana with ribbons of green, the color to show support for mental health awareness. They also will receive a chance to win tickets to some of the summer concerts presented by the Disabled Persons Action Organization and Waite Toyota.

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