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September 16, 2005

Walk for Mental Health Stigma

The stigma associated with mental illness is well known and although it has lessened over the years, it is still a real problem. For those of us living in New York, there is going to be a walk for mental illness that is being held to reduce the stigma surrounding mental illness. Also, I don't believe you have to pay to participate. It seems like a great event to attend and for everyone to benefit from.

The fourth annual "LI Festival & Walk for Mental Health" [LI stands for Long Island] is scheduled for Sunday, September 25, 2005 at 1:00 p.m. It is the only event of its kind that is intended solely to raise awareness of mental illness and the consequences of its stigma instead of raising funds. Participants throughout the tri-state area represent many community members, mental health organizations, professional associations, parent groups, individuals and families.

Participants will gather at the Huntington Post Office on Gerard Street by 12:30. The Master of Ceremonies, Ed Lowe, is currently writing for the LI Press after many years as a Newsday columnist with a common-sense approach to life. He'll lead "Walkers" to Huntington's Heckscher Park, where several speakers will discuss the negative affects of the stigma of mental illness.

An art show, music, food and exhibits will be in the park throughout the day to encourage the walk's anti-stigma message.

"Although one in five people across our nation is affected by mental illness, far too often there is a stigma associated with it even today," noted M.J. Pulling, a "Walk" committee member. "Stigma continues to be a significant obstacle for individuals and their families and discourages them from getting help they need because of their fear of discrimination," added Ms. Pulling.

Guest speakers include Tom O'Clair, responsible for convincing the NY Senate and Assembly to enact Timothy's Law. The bill was named for Timothy O'Clair, Tom's 12-year-old son who was afflicted by mental illnesses, which four years ago led to suicide. Because insurance companies routinely differentiate between individuals diagnosed with mental health disorders and those with physical disorders, Tom spent years trying to get treatment for his son but was unable to. Timothy's Law is intended to ensure that the state will provide coverage for mental health and chemical dependency that is on par with coverage for other physical issues.

The Honorable Sol Wachtler, former Chief Judge of the State of NY Court of Appeals, also will address participants. Judge Wachtler has had his own struggles with mental illness and knows very well the stigma associated with it. For information call (631) 434-9277, ext. 337.

SOURCE: LI Festival & Walk for Mental Health

You can check out other bipolar disorder events on our website by clicking here.

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