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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Tucson to walk to raise mental health awareness

    Peter Likins
    Peter Likins

    The National Alliance on Mental Illness will hold a five-kilometer walk tomorrow to raise awareness and money for mental health issues, with a former UA president co-chairing the event.

    Former UA president Peter Likins will be co-chairing the walk with his wife Patricia. Likins, whose son suffered from a mental illness, has become involved in community efforts to raise awareness of mental illness, such as speaking to medical students and police trainees about those with mental illness and their families.

    “”I try to help dispel some of the mythology that surrounds mental illness and pass the kind of stigma that my son felt,”” Likins said.

    The purpose of NAMI, a national nonprofit organization, is to educate people about mental illness, provide support for those suffering from mental illness and their families, advocate for providing treatment and services, and increase the amount of money allotted in insurance for mental health purposes, said Alexis O’Brien, media relations associate for NAMI.

    Many insurance companies offer separate amounts of coverage for physical health and mental health related medical costs. Often, the coverage provided for mental health is significantly less than that provided for physical health issues. NAMI is seeking to increase the amount allotted for mental health related costs, said Laura Schenk, a nursing senior and president of the UA chapter of NAMI.

    All of NAMI’s programming, including medical services and community awareness events, is offered free of charge, said Schenk.

    This year, NAMI will host 70 walks in locations throughout the United States to fund raise and increase community awareness of mental health issues. Tomorrow’s walk in Tucson will be the first one to take place in the nation this year, said H. Clarke Romans, executive director of NAMI Southern Arizona.

    About 1,000 people have already registered for the walk and around $80,000 has been raised for NAMI Southern Arizona. Their goal is to raise $100,000, Romans said. The exact number of participants and money raised will not be known until the day of the walk, he said.

    The profits raised will be used for local programming in the Southern Arizona community, Schenk said. The walk will be held at Kino Veterans Memorial Park and will begin at 9 a.m.

    “”A lot of people don’t know that something like this exists,”” Schenk said. “”We want to show Tucson who we are and get people thinking about mental health rights.””

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