High school students hosts mental health charity walk

THE BELLINGHAM HERALDSeptember 23, 2013 

Walking into the house I can feel the somber mood enclose around me as my family member lies there on the couch with no emotion visible on a blank face. Embarrassment floods my mind for me, for my family, for everyone involved.

Because of my family member's health problems I never wanted to be at the house, my embarrassment of being around them nearly too much to handle. This hard time impacted all members of my family immensely. Being around a person with mental health problems affects the loved ones a lot more than one would ever think. It created a very difficult time not only for myself, but all for my family members. Thankfully, throughout the last couple of years, that embarrassment has flourished into pride in that family member's progress with their mental health. The battle that they fight every day is one of the most inspirational sights that can be seen. Even though they feel down, they still get up and do what they can to make a glum day have some light in it. My family member did all they could to get through what had them constantly down and I've never been prouder of them. The hardships that come with fighting depression and anxiety are unimaginable, and my lack of that knowledge is what had made me embarrassed.

With that realization I've found so many others feel the same way that I felt. This is simply because there is no way to understand mental health unless you've personally experienced it or have seen it in someone you're close to.

People not understanding mental health brings on many misconceptions. Throughout my 13 years in school I have maybe gotten two lessons in mental health.

Based on my personal experience and my studies in school I have found that there is a big taboo on mental health that should not be there. In one way or another every person has some encounter with someone who has some mental health issue, and many do not know how to proceed in these encounters. Not only that, but kids who are going through mental health problems themselves or with someone at home feel so alone because it is so hard to find others knowledgeable and willing to talk about this issue. The lack of information out there has brought me to the conclusion that I need to do something about the misconceptions surrounding mental health.

Due to my passion for teaching others about mental health I've decided to put on a mental health charity walk that will not only raise money but will spread awareness. The charity with whom I've chosen to work is called Whatcom Psychiatric Clinic, a very important resource for anyone dealing with mental health problems in our community.

My charity walk will be on Saturday, Sept. 28, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Bellingham High School, 2020 Cornwall Ave. There will be music and refreshments provided. In order to raise money the advance registration for walking at the event fee will be $5, on the day of registration it will be $6 and with a t-shirt the fee will be $10. There will also be a sheet for pledges that walkers can get from others who want to help but cannot attend. There are also going to be raffle items that walkers can win. The main objective of the charity walk is to spread awareness, and as a result there will be many educational resources there helping to do so. Whatcom Psychiatric Clinic and other organizations will have tables set up to give you all the information you need to help you deal with any questions. Registration forms are available for pick up at Fountain Veterinary Hospital, 2430 Meridian St. Or email mpsoccerstar85@gmail.com for an entry form or for more information about how to get involved.

Madison Perry wrote this as part of her high school culminating project. Window On My World is an occasional essay in Monday's Bellingham Herald that allows Whatcom County residents to share their passion for what they do, an idea or cause they support. Send your Window On My World, which must be no more than 700 words, to julie.shirley@bellinghamherald.com.

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