With more than 2,000 participants and 208 teams, the Walk for Mental Health Awareness hosted by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Miami-Dade on Saturday, May 20 at Loan Depot Park raised funds for free support groups, peer mentoring, outreach and adult and youth educational programs and the Help Line.
“Considering this is only our second in person Walk event and the fact that the Walk continues to grow in attendance and fundraising, speaks to the tremendous need in our community,” according to NAMI Miami-Dade CEO & President, Susan Holtzman. “We are proud that we exceeded our fundraising goal of $275,000 by $50,000, because this will only enable NAMI’s continued growth in Miami-Dade and the Florida Keys. More is always needed. Donations remain open through June 15,” she said.
Statistics show the need for mental health resources in our community. Approximately 1 in 5 people will experience a mental illness in a given year, and according to the CDC and Gallup, mental unwellness due to the pandemic has created a suicide crisis in teens and a workplace crisis for employers. The Journal of the American Medical Association recently reported that between 2011-2020 ER visits for suicide related issues rose fivefold among children, teens and young adults.
“There is so much we need to do to address mental health issues. For one, there is so much stigma surrounding mental illness. We need to offer more resources. We are stepping up educating the community and creating greater awareness about mental health and the resources NAMI Miami-Dade offers,” Ms. Holtzman said. “And an important part of our message to employers is that in the workplace, the healthier your employees are, the healthier the business is. Recent studies and surveys conclude that organizations that foster a culture of mental wellness and provide mental health resources see greater employee retention and productivity,” she said.
Public officials joined the opening ceremonies of the Walk including Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava, and Miami-Dade County Commissioners Eileen Higgins and Rene Garcia, acknowledging the efforts and commitment of NAMI Miami-Dade and its partners to improve the quality of life in the community.
The inspiring second in-person event featured representatives and sponsors from a variety of health and mental health organizations, including Thriving Mind South Florida, the managing entity responsible for the mental health and substance use system in Miami Dade and Monroe. Also represented at the Walk were the providers of Miami Dade’s new crisis response system: Westcare’s Mobile Response Units funded by Thriving Mind; 988, the Mental Health and Suicide Crisis line managed by Jewish Community Services, and Miami Dade Police Department where a new co-responder model brings clinicians and law enforcement together to respond to crisis calls. These organizations came together to show their support for those with mental health challenges and to highlight the various resources available in Miami-Dade County.
NAMI Miami-Dade had the enthusiastic support of many corporate and community sponsors and teams, including Hard Rock Hotel & Casino as the Premier Sponsor. The Gold Sponsors included: Key Biscayne Community Foundation, Retreat Behavioral Health, Two Chairs, loanDepot Park, Carmen’s Luxury Travel, and The Children’s Trust. Silver Sponsors included: Bank of America, Univision Miami Contigo, Nicklaus Children’s Hospital, Carisk Partners, Udonis Haslem Foundation, Cigna, Leon Medical, Comprehensive Psychiatric Care, Mount Sinai Medical Center, Nomi Health, Citrus Health Network, Simply Healthcare and Baptist Health. For a complete list of sponsors, go to namiwalks.org/Miami.
About NAMI Miami-Dade
NAMI Miami-Dade County is an affiliate of the nation’s largest peer-led mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of individuals affected by a mental health condition and their families. NAMI Miami-Dade offers free and confidential mental health support, education, and advocacy for individuals and their families and friends in both English and Spanish. For more information, call 305-665-2540, or visit NAMIMiami.org and connect with us on Facebook or Instagram at @NAMIMiami.
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