The National Alliance on Mental Illness Costume Walk was held on the Fort Hays State University campus Oct. 30 to raise awareness about mental illness and to raise money to provide aid for the mentally ill.
The 3K Costume Walk was organized by National Alliance on Mental Illness on Campus, a student organization in its first year at FHSU. This was the first event held by the group.
“We wanted to introduce an organization that could help create an environment of support for students who struggle with mental illness, either personally or in their friends or family members,” said student President of NAMI on Campus Arianne Fisher, Hays senior.
Signs posted along the 3K route had information and statistics regarding mental illness that helped participants complete a mental illness fact sheet. Prizes were awarded to the first team and the first individual to correctly complete the fact sheet, as well as to the best adult individual costume, best child individual costume and best team costume.
“Money raised is going toward NAMI Hays operations and services, as well as future NAMI on Campus events,” said Gina Smith, Department of Psychology instructor and faculty sponsor for NAMI on Campus.
The event had a total of 23 participants and raised $250, according to Fisher.
“We have plans to bring speakers to campus to talk about mental health, and we have also discussed having awareness events in The Quad or Union to help reach a large number of students,” Fisher said.
She added that the group wants to reduce the stigma attached to mental illness by providing education about mental illness to the public.
“I became involved with this organization to help support this mission and to help bring this education to FHSU, because I believe that no one deserves to suffer in silence because they are afraid the public will not understand their illness,” Fisher said, “The more we know about mental illness, the more we can help the people who experience it right here at FHSU.”
State and local NAMI chapters raise awareness and provide essential and free education, advocacy and support group programs, according to nami.org. In addition to NAMI on Campus, the Kelly Center, Picken 111, provides education and confidential personal counseling services free of charge to FHSU students.
Students can join the organization on TigerLink or attend one of the group’s meetings, which are held every other Wednesday.