5K Walk Brings Out Hundreds in Support of Mental Illness

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Provided by Prince William County

A recent 5K walk to raise awareness of mental health in Prince William County drew more than 400 people who took to the course at Locust Shade Park to walk for the cause.

“It’s just to make sure that everyone knows that we have mental health issues throughout our community and that it’s OK to recognize that, and it’s OK to seek help and as a county we need to provide services to people who need help,” said Prince William Board of County Supervisors Chair at-Large Ann Wheeler, who walked in the 5K Sunday.

People from across the county were invited to attend the event hosted by Prince William County Potomac District Supervisor Andrea O. Bailey, under her “One Prince William” initiative, to help get the message out to as many people as possible. “I’m so excited for all the people that turned out today. We had people from the western part of the county and people from the eastern part of the county and that’s what’s going to make us ‘One Prince William.’ It is important that the entire community comes together and addresses the necessity of having resources and community experts to heal mental health.”

Prince William County Woodbridge District Supervisor Margaret Angela Franklin said the board supports getting mental health care to people who need it. “This is a board that has put a lot of effort into mental health services and social services generally and things like this help to raise awareness, but you also have a board that’s putting the money in, we’re hiring the people necessary to handle these types of issues.”

Larissa and Fernando Miller came out to walk because they have a family member who lives with mental Illness. They wanted to help where they could. “Through COVID, I know a lot of people, including myself, have suffered depression. It’s just great to be out here in the community talking about mental illness,” Larissa Miller said.

The event drew a number of mental health advocates who came with tables, tents and information.

Pat Victorson, president and program coordinator for National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), attended the event in an official capacity to make people aware of the free classes, seminars, and family and school programs the organization offers to help people recognize and cope with mental illness. “It’s about making folks aware of the resources in the community and we’re one of the resources out here because everything we do is free.”

“Mental health conditions are very challenging. There are all sorts of illnesses that are bad, but the bad thing about mental health conditions is that it changes the way a person acts, feels and behaves and that can break down family relationships. We call it the ripple effect and it can affect the community when the police have to be called,” Victorson said.

For more information and help call NAMI at 703-659-9983 or visit nami-pw.org.

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