Raising awareness

Walk A Mile In My Shoes Rally underscores Mental Health Awareness Month

Participants of Pathways Community Mental Health 2019 Walk A Mile In My Shoes Rally cross the finish line after completing a one-mile walk Thursday afternoon to raise awareness for mental health and intellectual and developmental disabilities. (Journal photo by Trinity )Carey

MARQUETTE — One in five adults in America will be affected by mental illness in their lifetime and 43.8 million adults experience mental illness in a given year, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

In an effort to end the stigma surrounding mental illness, substance use disorders and individuals with developmental disabilities, Pathways Community Mental Health hosted its third annual Walk A Mile In My Shoes Rally Thursday afternoon.

“This is such a special event because it brings people together from all different kinds of abilities to all different kinds of focuses and it really shows the level of resources that we have in the community for people and I think it’s so important that we join together to collaborate and be a part of something bigger,” said Pathways Clinical Program Supervisor Ashley Jenema. 

Rally participants walked one mile on the bike path from the Marquette Commons, enjoyed musical performances and snacks and heard from guest speakers Bob Sheehan, CEO of the Michigan Association of Community Mental Health Boards, as well as Troy Patterson and Lorissa Juntti who shared their stories of recovery. 

The event was a celebration of the diversity of the Marquette community and a way to show and provide support for anyone who may be in need. 

Lisa O’Neill paints the face of Autumn Reichel during Thursday’s rally. (Journal photo by Trinity Carey)

“Having resources in the community to help people who are struggling with behavioral health issues is so important because there’s a path toward recovery for everybody and that path and what recovery looks like is going to be different for everybody. But it really is possible, and when we have the support we need to get through difficult times we can reach our full potential and that’s just an amazing thing to be able to do,” Jenema said.

Walk A Mile In My Shoes T-shirts and promotional materials were created by art students from Marquette Alternative High School.

Various booths from organizations such as the Marquette Women’s Center, Great Lakes Recovery Centers, National Alliance on Mental Illness-Alger/Marquette, the Care Clinic and more were also present to provide mental health education and information on resources available in the community.

Jenema recommended those suffering from mental illness take the first step in seeking help by talking to their primary care doctor, calling the access department at Northcare Network Mental Health Clinic, which provides specialty mental health and substance use disorder services, or reaching out to any mental health organization. 

“The way that we can end the stigma to just start with is being able to talk honestly about our own personal struggles or our experiences with those struggles with those we love, also being able to fully listen and listen to understand so that we can better know how other people are experiencing their world,” Jenema said. “…Healing and recovery is possible and even though it’s hard we can get through it if we do it together.”

Attendees wave their hands in support as Len Kagamine sings “Pale by Within Temptation” to raise awareness of attention deficit disorder. (Journal photo by Trinity Carey)