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Thousands Will Walk to End Stigma of Mental Illness & Raise Money for Support Programs

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 26, 2016

Boston, MA—The National Alliance on Mental Illness of Massachusetts (NAMI Mass) has a major goal for the 13th Annual NAMIWalks Massachusetts: to break the $5 million mark in funds raised over the Walk’s history. With 1 in 5 adults experiencing a mental health disorder, 1 in 5 children and adolescents living with a mental health condition, and stigma continuing to prevent people from seeking help (see statistics and infographics), this event is crucial to providing fundamental support and putting an end to discrimination.

Thousands of individuals living with mental illness, family, friends and advocates from across the state will gather for the Walk (#NAMIWalksMass) on Saturday, May 14, at Artesani Park in Boston (1255 Soldiers Field Road; across from Days Inn). Walk-ins welcome. Learn more, register and donate at namimass.org/nami-walk.

“This event is vital to putting an end to stigma and absolutely essential to funding our free programs and services, which help people get the support and assistance they need,” said 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 and treatment without shame or fear.”

This year’s Walk includes teams from several Mass. companies whose leaders have joined NAMI’s CEOs Against Stigma campaign to change attitudes about mental health within workplaces. One such leader is Boston Mayor Martin Walsh, who said, “When we come together as a community, we can turn our hardest struggles into our greatest strengths. We are committed to fostering a supportive and welcoming environment for employees and residents alike, and I look forward to continuing our important work to reduce the stigma and raise awareness about mental health.”

Read more about CEOs Against Stigma in the 2016 NAMI Mass Walk Fact Sheet-make link, along with Mental Health Myth Busters, Quotes from Prominent NAMI Mass Supporters, NAMI Mass Signature Programs Info, and Mental Health Facts and Figures.

NAMI Mass is a nonprofit grassroots education, support and advocacy organization. Its mission is to improve the quality of life for individuals and families by educating the public, fighting discrimination and promoting recovery. The Walk is a stigma-free zone—a true celebration of hope, dignity and recovery—and is mission-critical as it accounts for half of the organization’s annual budget.

Since 2004, NAMI Mass has raised more than $4.8 million and has funneled that money directly into programs and services statewide. The 2015 Walk raised $623,000, making it the first NAMI Walk ever to top $600,000, the most successful NAMI Walk in the U.S. for the sixth year in a row, and the fourth consecutive year above the half-million-dollar mark. This year, NAMI Mass aims to raise $650,000.

The 2016 Walk will kick off with a speaking program emceed by Fox25 News Anchors Vanessa Welch and Mark Ockerbloom, and featuring Massachusetts Department of Mental Health Commissioner Joan Mikula and Allie Raymond. Having been diagnosed with bipolar and generalized anxiety disorder after a suicide attempt in 2009, Allie will deliver a personal and powerful message that recovery is achievable.

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

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Bridgewater patients deserve appropriate services — now

YOUR REPORT about another death of a so-called inmate at Bridgewater State Hospital is tragic, disturbing, and all too familiar (“State probes man’s death at Bridgewater State Hospital,” Metro, April 12). The death of Leo Marino, 43, by suicide, could have been avoided, as could the deaths of Joshua Messier and others before him.

Marino and Messier lived with mental illness. Neither was convicted of a crime, and both were at Bridgewater State Hospital for evaluation and treatment. But Bridgewater isn’t a hospital at all — it’s a medium security prison where Massachusetts sends its sickest and most vulnerable people with mental illness.

Confinement to a correctional facility for people with mental illness is inhumane and unjust and puts their lives in jeopardy. Additionally, it greatly reduces the chances of recovery and integration back into the community. These patients deserve the appropriate services provided by the Commonwealth’s Department of Mental Health, as they would in every other state in the nation. We look to the Baker administration to take immediate action to end this shameful practice.

Laurie Martinelli, executive director

National Alliance on Mental Illness of Massachusetts, Boston

Letter to the Editor, April 20, 2016

A Message from Laurie Martinelli, Executive Director

In light of recent events and media reports regarding Arbour Health System facilities, NAMI Mass decided to return Arbour’s 2016 Walk corporate sponsorship donation. Anyone with questions about this decision should contact Karen Gromis, Walk Director, at kgromis@namimass.org.