CINCINNATIóNumerous studies have demonstrated the mental health benefits of exercise. But thatís just one of the reasons NAMIWalks Cincinnati will unite over 1,500 participants Saturday morning, May 11, at Sawyer Point on the Cincinnati riverfront.
The 5-kilometer fundraising walk also has the goal of raising the publicís awareness of mental illness and breaking down the stigma surrounding it. It comes during Mental Health Month and at a time when mental illness is a major part of the national conversation following numerous highly publicized incidents of violence.
Mental illness accounts for five of the 10 most disabling conditions in the world and is vitally important, says Stephen Strakowski, MD, the Dr. Stanley and Mickey Kaplan Professor and Chair of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neuroscience at the University of Cincinnati (UC) College of Medicine. These include major depression, alcohol abuse, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and obsessive-compulsive disorder, according to "The Global Burden of DiseaseĒ (Harvard University Press).
People who dismiss mental illness as being "all in your headĒ are uneducated about the biological mechanisms underlying the disease, Strakowski says. "Stigma is always based on ignorance,Ē he adds. "Thatís why we need to spread knowledge and help people understand these illnesses.Ē
NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) of Hamilton County is a grassroots education, support and advocacy organization that offers educational programs, support groups and an information and referral phone line. It works with the national NAMI organization and the state affiliate, NAMI Ohio. Its executive director is Heather Turner.
Strakowski, a member of the NAMI Hamilton County Board of Directors, makes it a point to participate in NAMIWalks each year and consistently ranks as one of the top fundraisers, along with fellow faculty members in the psychiatry and behavioral neuroscience department.
In addition, UC Health Psychiatry, the Lindner Center of HOPE (a UC Health affiliate) and Cincinnati Childrenís Hospital Medical Center consistently rank among the top team fundraisers. Last year, UC Health Psychiatry and the Lindner Center of HOPE raised a combined $24,315 in NAMIWalks.
There is no walker registration fee for NAMIWalks. All participants are encouraged to collect donations from family members, friends, co-workers and business associates in support of their participation. All money collected by walkers will be used to fund NAMIís programs in the Greater Cincinnati community. Registration is at 9 a.m. Saturday, with a start time of 10.
To register as a fundraiser, go to NAMI Hamilton Countyís website at www.namihc.org. Offline donations and matching gifts can be mailed to:
NAMI of Hamilton County
4790 Red Bank Expy, Suite 218
Cincinnati, OH 45227