NAMI-Walks Help to Bring Awareness to Mental Health and Those Affected by it

SACRAMENTO -- William Land Park hosted the National Alliance on Mental Illness for its annual NAMI-Walks event for Northern California, Saturday.

FOX40 is a proud sponsor of the event that raises awareness for mental illness.

The goal was to accept and help, those impacted by mental disorders.

"We work at building a community where people are comfortable talking with each other, and a lot of people feel they are hidden away and are living with this alone," said Davis Bain, the executive director of NAMI Sacramento.

The realty is, they are not alone.

Almost one on five people are affected by some form of mental illness. That is nearly 20 percent of the population.

"But a lot of people won't talk about it. In a lot of ways it's like coming out of the closet, and since no one is talking about it, no one realized the extent of the problem," said Bain.

The NAMI-Walks event is a place for those whom suffer from mental illness and their loved ones to gain valuable support in living with their disorder.

"We do everything on lived-experience. So, it's family members who have gone through all of this and have been trained to be facilitators or teachers who then turn around and help people who are just coming into it," said Bain.

10 years ago, Robert Starkey began showing signs of Schizoaffective Disorder. A psychosis and mood disorder that threatened Robert's ability to graduate from high school.

"[NAMI] really helped us to see a future when we thought there couldn't be," said Deborah Starkey, Robert's mother.

It was difficult for everyone at first but Robert and his family learned patience and acceptance through NAMI's free programs.

Now, at 24, Robert has graduated from high school and is getting straight A's at American River College.

"I kind of had to take some time off, and I didn't like that because all my friends were graduating from high school and going off to college. I think the time I did take off to focus on my mental health has been a huge benefit for me because I was able to focus on my mental health," said Robert.

Deborah says that talking with people whom have been through similar situations is very important.

The event not only encompassed Sacramento but the entire Northern California region, seven counties.

If you would like to donate to NAMI Sacramento, you can do so by clicking here.