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June 14th, 2021

be aware mental health awareness flyerELLY GRIMM • Leader & Times

 

Many people suffer from mental health issues and soon, people will be able to help bring some awareness to mental health. 

The Be Aware Mental Health Awareness 5K and 1-mile walk will take place Saturday, May 22 and will start at 10 a.m. at Sign Express at 21 S. Western Avenue, with the 1-mile point and 5K point will be marked off for those who participate. 

“This is to help bring attention to mental health awareness, because there is just not enough of that right now, and the proceeds will be going to Liberal Area Rape Crisis/Domestic Violence Services (LARC/DVS),” coordinator Jammie Ingram said. “People can sign up by calling or texting me at (806) 440-3792 or by calling me at Sign Express at (620) 626-7636, and to be guaranteed a t-shirt, be sure to sign up early. The sign-up fee is $25 per person.”

Ingram said her own story was part of the inspiration for having the event. 

“I had a child who was transgender – I had a son for 21 years and then a daughter for seven years, and she passed away last year after struggling with some mental health issues,” Ingram said. “It's really hard to get mental health services in this part of the world, and getting the more intensive help is really hard to come by. I know LARC/DVS has two therapists on staff now, so that's why the proceeds will go there, that's where the proceeds will help the most people.”

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Ingram added she feels the stigma surrounding getting help for mental health issues needs to go away. 

“We need to get people more aware of mental health, and the more we can do to help raise that awareness, the better it will be for people who need help,” Ingram said. “Part of that is admitting when we're not okay, and we need to normalize that it's okay to not always feel okay. There's still a lot of stigma around people getting help for mental health issues, and with the COVID-19 pandemic and people needing to stay away from each other to stop the spread, that's really been exacerbated with a lot of people who were already struggling. Mental health has definitely become more talked about in the context of the last year, and I think we need to keep raising awareness of this and keep talking about it and encouraging people to seek help if they feel they're at that point.”

With this being the first year for the event, Ingram said she is playing it rather by ear as far as expectations. 

“So far, we've had really good cooperation from sponsors. I don't yet have a lot of people signed up to actually walk, but with this being the first year, I knew it would probably make more sense to not have super-high expectations for it,” Ingram said. “We've also gotten quite a few donations toward LARC/DVS, the community has been fantastic with that so far. We've also got some good door prizes for afterward, including a pair of athletic shoes from Brown's Shoe Fit, some coupons to local restaurants, a membership to Rapid Fit, things like that, and there are a few of those things we're finalizing. Then with the fundraising itself, it’s one of those situations where as much money as we can raise, that's what we raise, and with this being my first event, I wasn't sure what to expect anyway. But if we get around, say, $3,000, I would consider that a big success. I really did go into this kind of blind, but mental health awareness is something that's important to me, and I wanted to do something to bring that to others in the community. And if this event goes well, I want to maybe do another event for suicide awareness in September, but we'll see how this event goes first.”

Ingram added for those who cannot attend the walk in person but still want to show support for the cause, there are a few things they can do. 

“They can just reach out to me and donate, they can do that via Venmo or PayPal, or I can actually pick up donations in person if that needs to happen, and they can also get ahold of me by phone or e-mail at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.,” Ingram said. “I’ve already had some people tell me they can’t actually be there in person, but they went ahead and donated the entry fee anyway because they support this cause.”

Ingram added she is also excited about the event and how everything will go. 

“Along with having the walk, we'll also be having a cookout afterward to encourage some more community involvement. We'll be serving brisket, smoker queso, Meisenheimer's cheesy potatoes and desserts, and there will also be a bouncy house obstacle course for the kids to have fun with,” Ingram said. “All of that will be in the Sign Express parking lot, and it should be a good time.”

Ingram reiterated the importance of mental health awareness. 

“Mental health tends to be swept under the rug, so the more we can do to bring it out into the open, the better it will be,” Ingram said. “People are told to go to the doctor if they have a physical ailment like a broken leg or the flu, why shouldn't going in for some mental health help be as routine? Unfortunately, a lot of people who do struggle with mental health issues don't go in for help because they're afraid people will look down on them, or even that their job is at risk if their employer finds out. The longer you wait, the worse it can get. If you reach out to get help sooner, things might not end up so bad, and early intervention is key with so many things. If you are at the point where you feel you need some help, please do so.”

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