NAMIWalks Your Way Michigan is coming to Wayne State’s campus on Saturday, Sept. 24. The 5K walk to raise mental health awareness begins at 10 a.m.
Participation is free but walkers are asked to register, and can do so either online prior to the event or in person starting at 8 a.m. Saturday.
While Wayne State has been heavily involved in the event in past years, this will be the first year the walk takes place on campus.
“Wayne State has been a tremendous supporter of NAMI,” said Kevin Fischer, executive director of NAMI Michigan. “Wayne State actually has a group referred to as the NAMI Warriors on campus that has been supportive of NAMI walks for probably the last seven years.”
Wayne State’s School of Social Work was instrumental in bringing the walk to campus. Fischer worked with School of Social Work Dean Sheryl Kubiak and Wayne State Dean of Student David Strauss to move the walk to Wayne State.
“We see NAMIWalks as not only a mechanism to illuminate the mental health crisis across the state, but also to bring increased awareness to our students that social justice advocacy is imperative in reducing the consequences associated with mental health issues,” Kubiak said.
Fischer hopes having the walk on a college campus will attract more young people.
“It’s a fundraising event, but to me it’s more about raising awareness for mental health,” Fischer said. “We've seen so many young people affected by the mental health crisis, especially over the last two and a half years through the pandemic. We think it's a great opportunity to host the event on the university’s campus and attract college and high school students to participate.
“We want to share the message that it's okay to not to be okay. And we need to eliminate the stigma associated with behavioral health care diagnoses so people who need help will seek that help and know that it's okay.”
Strauss hopes that hosting the walk on campus will encourage a large number of Wayne State students to participate.
“Mental health is such an important issue, and the more we can raise awareness and help others, the better. Thus, our enthusiasm to host the walk at Wayne State,” Strauss said.
The walk also features a mental health fair.
“Many of the community's largest behavioral health care organizations will have exhibit and information tables at the event,” Fischer said. “Also, for those students who are in the School of Social Work, studying psychology or any other behavior, or engaged in a health care curriculum, it's a great opportunity to meet with provider agencies to get a better idea of career opportunities and career paths.”