23ABC Community Connection


National Association of Mental Illness Kern County walk goes virtual, but still spreads mental health awareness throughout community

Student Mental Health
Posted at 5:57 PM, Oct 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-09 20:57:40-04

BAKERSFIELD, Cali — Saturday is your chance to walk with Americans from across the nation, virtually, that is. It's all part of a campaign to help spread awareness and support those suffering with a mental illness.

23ABC is a proud sponsor of the Kern County National Alliance on Mental Illness virtual walk.

“Our NAMI walks is about spreading awareness, promoting awareness, it is about reducing the stigma of having a mental illness, we want to take a public stance to let people know that it is okay to not be okay,” Sharon Woolfolk, president of NAMI Kern County, said.

On Saturday, October 13th, the NAMI walk will be going virtual allowing people from all around the community to participate in a safe way.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness is a mental health organization, who are dedicated to building better lives for those who are affected by mental illness.

“Instead of walking with thousands of people in our local parks, we are going to be walking virtually, and what we are asking is for all individuals in our county, state wide, nationwide, to encourage individuals with a mental illness, encourage them with signs of hope, inspirational words, words of encouragement to let them know that they are not alone.” Woolfolk said.

You can share motivational messages and walk on your own, sharing it on social media through Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

According to Woolfolk, there will be over 70 walks nationwide on Saturday to help raise awareness about all mental illnesses including depression , anxiety, bipolar disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, post traumatic stress disorder, schizophrenia, and bipolar personality disorder.

According to Kern Behavior Health and Recovery Services, 1 in 5 adults will suffer from some sort of mental illness in their lifetime.

"It could be situational, it could be a lot of things, but mental illness is still so in the closet, we don’t talk about it,” Ellen Eggert, program support supervisor, for the Kern BHRS crisis hotline.

For those who may be struggling, you can contact the Kern BHRS hotline at 800-991-5272.

Both NAMI and Kern BHRS want the community to know that having a mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of and this walk is dedicated to starting the conversation surrounding mental health.

“Erasing that stigma and to people who have struggled with mental illness, to share about it and not be ashamed of it because mental illness we know it can be hereditary but we also know it can happen to everybody,” Eggert said.

“It is okay to not be okay, know that all of us experience some type of mental health condition throughout our lives,” Woolfolk said.

There will be opening ceremonies online Saturday morning on the NAMI Facebook page. If you want to be apart of the virtual walk, you can register online.