NAMI walk promotes mental illness awareness

Posted: Updated:

TUCSON, Ariz. -- Thousands of people left Kino Sports Complex on foot to raise awareness of mental illness.

The January 8 shootings put a spotlight on behavioral health, but the message Saturday was hope and recovery.

They suffer an affliction that is hard to understand, but those with mental illnesses walked among family, friends and advocates.

The discussion on mental health got a jump start following the Safeway shootings, with the suspect's psychological stability called into question.

"I certainly hope that it helped people realize the importance of help for individuals with mental illness," said Mary Means from NAMI.

he flew under the radar and i think if we had more services possibly if that man could have got a psychiatric evaluation when he was considered a problem in school, that could have stopped a lot of things.

Many of the NAMI walk participants are calling for more funding.  Advocates are, however, applauding the construction of two new treatment facilities near University Physicians Center.

Walkers were taking steps to take the fear and mystery out of the mental health equation.

According to one expert, one in five people have some form of mental illness.  With those odds, it could be a loved one.  Advocates say, we must the change the way we view behavioral issues.

Last year's NAMI walk reeled in about 3,500 participants.

This year, organizers estimate about 4,000 people walked for awareness.