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STATEWIDE WALK TO RAISE CRITICAL FUNDS & END STIGMA OF MENTAL ILLNESS NEEDS HELP

2014 NAMI Walk start line image

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 16, 2015

Boston, MA—The National Alliance on Mental Illness of Massachusetts (NAMI Mass), a nonprofit grassroots education, support and advocacy organization, is calling for help to spread the word about its 12th Annual NAMIWalks Massachusettsfundraiser. Despite being the largest NAMI Walk in the nation for the past five years, organizers are concerned about the greater need for services and related rising costs. These circumstances, combined with proposed budget cuts to state mental health programs and services, mean any decrease in monies raised could have a devastating effect on the state’s most vulnerable population.

In an ever-crowded spring fundraiser season, it’s hard for all nonprofits, but with 1 in 5 adults experiencing a mental health disorder each year and 1 in 10 children and adolescents suffering from serious emotional and mental disorders, it’s easy to see why the NAMI Mass Walk is a priority. Engaging public participation now can help raise critical funds and awareness at a time when utilization is up and resources are down. Funds raised through the Walk account for nearly half of the NAMI Mass annual budget.

“This event is essential to funding our programs and services—which help people find and access the support and services they need—and crucial to putting an end to stigma,” says NAMI Mass Executive Director Laurie Martinelli. “People with mental health issues can and do lead fruitful and productive lives, but only if they can access services without shame or fear.”

The Walk is a stigma-free zone, a true celebration of hope, dignity and recovery. It will take place on Saturday, May 16, at Artesani Park in Boston (1255 Soldiers Field Road; across from Days Inn). Walk-ins are welcome. Learn more, register and donate at www.namimass.org/nami-walk.

One of the ways the Walk aims to eliminate stigma is by sharing stories of hope from individuals with lived experience and their family members, many of whom credit NAMI Mass with making a vital difference in their lives. (Read stories underReasons to Hope, Reasons to Walk and more in the 2015 Walk Fact Sheet at www.namimass.org/nami-walk/2015-walk-fact-sheet.)

Secretary of the Executive Office of Health and Human Services Marylou Sudders, whose mother struggled with mental health issues, will speak at the Walk and is lending her voice now in support. “I have a long history with the National Alliance on Mental Illness. And this Walk is the perfect way to raise awareness and to stamp out the stigma of mental illness, one step at a time.”

Since 2004, NAMI Mass has raised more than $4.2 million and has funneled that money directly into programs and services statewide. The 2014 Walk raised $570,000, making it the most successful NAMIWalks fundraiser in the U.S. for the fifth year in a row, and the third consecutive year above the half-million-dollar mark. NAMI Mass aims to raise $600,000 this year.

Founded in 1982, NAMI Mass is the state’s voice on mental illness with 21 local chapters and more than 2,000 members. Its mission is to improve the quality of life for people with mental health challenges and their families by educating the public; fighting stigma, discrimination and stereotypes; and promoting recovery.

For more information and interviews, contact: Matt Ellis, matt@ellisstrategies.com, 617-278-6560

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