NAMI NH walk in Concord draws record crowd

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  • Amy Allard and her children, James and Hailey, wait for the start of the NAMI Walk in honor of her husband, Jeremy, who died in 2012. Allard raised over $3,000 for the walk on Sunday. GEOFF FORESTER photos / Monitor staff

  • Heather Anderson of Hillsboro gets a hug after getting emotional after taking a group photo for Bonnie’€™s Soul Sisters in memory of her sister, Bonnie, who died in 2001.

  • Cheryl Allard wears a tee shirt with writing honoring her son Jeremy who died from suicide in 2012. Allard was there with her whole family at the NAMI Walk on Sunday, September 30, 2018. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • James Allard, 7, reaches up to touch the balloons at the start of NAMI Walk across from Memorial Field on Sunday, September 30, 2018, The Allard family walked in honor of Jeremy Allard who died from suicide in 2018. His wife Amy raised over $3000. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Amy Allard and her children Hailey and James start at the NAMI Walk on Sunday, September 30, 2018 across from Memorial Field. Allard raised over $3,000 in memory of her husband Jeremy who died from suicide in 2012. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Heather Anderson from Hillsboro gets a group hug after getting emotional after their group Bonnie’s Soul Sisters’ photo before the NAMI Walk across from Memorial Field on Sunday, September 30, 2018. Anderson lost her sister Bonnie to suicide in 2001. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Participants in the NAMI Walk travel down Centre Street in Concord on Sunday. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

Monitor staff
Published: 9/30/2018 3:39:30 PM

One of the biggest difficulties of dealing with mental illness and suicide is isolation.

Executive Director of NAMI New Hampshire Ken Norton said it’s something he sees every day – people are afraid to be open about their challenges for fear of facing stigma or discrimination.

But Norton also said that’s been changing in recent years as evidenced by the record crowd at NAMI’s annual walk on Sunday.

“When people come together and see the power of numbers and that they’re not alone and that they are not the only families that are suffering with this, there’s a sense of solidarity that forms,” he said. “People begin to feel connected.”

The NAMI walks began around 2003 in Manchester. In those days, about 200 or 300 people walked. Last year, there were around 1,200 people. This year, the walk had about 2,000 participants and $130,000 has been raised so far. Fundraising runs through Nov. 30.

“The numbers are just going up and up,” Norton said.

Norton said he believes overall increased awareness, the recent CDC reports relative to suicide deaths and a commitment from the governor to fight the mental health crisis has motivated more Granite Staters to get involved.

He said NAMI’s budget is about $3 million a year – and is mostly funded through grants, which restrict where the money can go. Each walk, however, raises about $110,000 that the non-profit can use for educational programming and peer supports.

Last year, NAMI New Hampshire provided education, support and advocacy to more than 21,000 Granite Staters affected by mental illness and suicide. Every year, mental illness impacts the lives of at least one in 5 adults and children across the United States.




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