BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — We are almost halfway through Mental Health Awareness Month - which is normally full of events around town, organized by the National Alliance on Mental Illness, or NAMI. Obviously, this year, that's not the case.
People with existing mental health problems are now dealing with the added stress of the pandemic. Leaders of NAMI Kern County say they're encouraging people to use their self-care strategies, like exercise, cognitive behavioral therapy and more.
However, they also recognize that not all issues can be addressed from afar, and people who need more hands-on treatment could easily fall through the cracks. So, the non-profit is making some serious adjustments to the way they interact with people.
Sharon Woolfolk, the President of NAMI Kern County, said everything is different this year.
"We're used to that face to face contact. So now, having to do everything through Zoom? Completely different. We're used to doing a lot of things from the first of May, now all the way through the 30th. Now we're kind of limited as to... what can we do?" Sharon said.
So, organizers came up with an idea. This weekend, they're putting on a car parade to bring a smile to the face of anyone who is unable to leave their home right now, and they're inviting the community to take part.
"To promote some cheer, and some awareness, and to let them know they're not alone and that we see them. Even though we can't be close in contact, we are thinking about them and praying for them through this entire ordeal," Sharon said.
The parade starts at 10 a.m. Saturday, May 16, at Lowell Park in downtown Bakersfield. It will wrap through the city and end near Memorial Hospital. The route will pass through multiple senior and residential care facilities.
Prior to the start of the parade, they're inviting the community to Kingston Health Care Center at 9:30 a.m.
Organizers say they want to let the residents and employees there know the community cares about them.