The annual NAMIWalks Maryland is coming up on May 21st, and I am the proud team captain of a group of NAMI Metro Baltimore volunteers. We give In Our Own Voice presentations regularly in the community, so we named our walk team “Our Voices Matter!” When asked why my teammates and I walk, I had more than one answer.
We walk to bring awareness about mental illness to the community. We know that one in five people struggle with some form of mental illness, and so, as I like to tell people, every single person in the world is somehow affected by it, whether they know it or not. We are daughters and sons, spouses, parents, employees, volunteers, neighbors, and friends. We are everywhere. We come from all walks of life. And we are just like everyone else.
We walk to ensure that no one will ever have to pay to participate in NAMI Metro Baltimore programs. NAMI Metro Baltimore is committed to helping those with mental illness through life-changing programs and classes that are free of charge. We want them to be able to continue helping others without ever having to ask for a single penny from individuals impacted by a mental health condition.
We walk to erase the stigma associated with mental illness. Far too many members of the public think that people with mental illness are lazy, crazy, “psycho”, not productive, and to be feared. That could not be further from the truth. We have been negatively labeled for far too long. We want people to know that those stereotypes are false. We have an illness, just like those who have cancer, diabetes, or any other physical illness. Our illnesses should be respected and treated with dignity, because they are physical illnesses and should be treated as such. We have been through so much, and continue to fight battles every single day that most people know nothing about. We are brave, strong, determined, and passionate about our own recovery. We have survived so much and we are here to tell our stories of what we have overcome.
We walk to share our stories of living well with mental illness. We want to show others that they can too. We’ve been there. We know what it takes, and how the benefits of recovery are worth the hard work that it requires. We know that NAMI Metro Baltimore is a wonderful resource. We are ‘In Our Own Voice’ presenters because we want those who are really struggling to know that they can overcome—they can live well.
We walk because we love volunteering. We are deeply committed volunteers striving to help the community realize that, even though we have been through a lot, we are just like everyone else. We also aspire to help those living with mental illness know that they are not alone. We are living proof that anyone can live well with mental illness.
I hope you will join me and NAMI Metro Baltimore in this walk to show everyone that those living with mental illness are important and that our voices matter!
Megan Roach is a NAMI Metropolitan Baltimore volunteer and is a trained In Our Own Voice presenter.
Register your team today to participate in the 14th Annual NAMIWalks Maryland on Saturday, May 21st.
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