Second Annual Houston Walk for Mental Health Awareness: Oct. 20, 2012

Moving for Mental Health:
Join the Second Annual Houston Walk for Mental Health Awareness

by Marene Gustin

If you look at downtown’s City Hall the night of October 18, it will be lit up in a wave of lime green.

Lime green is the color of mental health awareness, and the lights will be celebrating the second annual Houston Walk for Mental Health Awareness.

“Raising funds for mental health organizations is more of a by-product,” says founder and executive director C. Patrick Mcllvane. “I want to offer positive awareness of this issue. That’s what the walk is about. The only time we hear about mental illness is when there’s a tragedy like the recent shooting.” Mcllvain is referring to the police shooting of a mentally ill amputee. “We need to talk about battling mental illness in a positive light, like we do about fighting cancer.”

“We need a new mission, a mission to the mind,” says congressman Patrick J. Kennedy in a video welcome for walk participants, comparing Houston’s race into space to the race to better understand the “inner space” of the human brain. Kennedy, a former representative from Rhode Island, supported legislation for mental health issues and is co-founder of One Mind for Research, a nonprofit that researches, funds, and promotes awareness of mental health and brain injuries.

Last year’s walk raised more than $17,000 for mental health agencies, and Mcllvain hopes to raise even more this year with proceeds going to 19 area agencies including Legacy Community Health Services, Montrose Counseling Center, and the Transgender Foundation of America. The October 20 walk begins at Stude Park with registration at 7 a.m.; the walk starts at 8 a.m. and will be lead by Mayor Annise Parker.

New this year is a luncheon on October 19 at the United Way Community Resource Center sponsored by The Menninger Clinic. The lunch, with a presentation on creating balance in your life, is open to registered walkers and others, but you need to RSVP to Bree Scott at 713/275-5060.

Between the two events, the nonprofit board hopes to raise $65,000 this year. “Drop your jaw on that,” says Mcllvain with a laugh. Most of the $25 registration fee goes into the event, but walkers have friends sponsor them for each mile. “It’s really pretty much up to the teams,” Mcllvain says. “Hopefully we’ll have a good turnout this year.”

The Houston Walk for Mental Health Awareness is a family event and even includes a special children’s center, something Mcllvain dreamed up.

“At the age of eight I developed a very bad stutter,” he explains. “I was sent to speech therapy right away, but I should have been sent to mental health counseling to address the underlying cause of the stutter. I didn’t get therapy until I was 36 years old. With mental health issues we don’t often think of the children, but like any disease, we need to catch it early.

“And we need to stop freely throwing the word crazy around. People say ‘that’s crazy’ and I think it’s offensive. We need to ban that word like the N-word. You don’t hear people say ‘that’s cancer,’ so why do we use the word crazy?”

A good point about a serious health problem.


Second Annual  Houston Walk for Mental Health Awareness
Saturday, Oct. 20, 2012
On-site registration and packet pick-up will open at 7 a.m. at Stude Park



Marene Gustin

Marene Gustin has written about Texas culture, food, fashion, the arts, and Lone Star politics and crime for television, magazines, the web and newspapers nationwide, and worked in Houston politics for six years. Her freelance work has appeared in the Austin Chronicle, Austin-American Statesman, Houston Chronicle, Houston Press, Texas Monthly, Dance International, Dance Magazine, the Advocate, Prime Living, InTown magazine, OutSmart magazine and web sites CultureMap Houston and Austin, Eater Houston and, among others.

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