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Join the region’s coalition of mental health advocates for the first annual Fairfield County Walks for Mental Health event on Saturday, May 6th from 10:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. on the Norwalk Green (parking available on Park Street).

Warm up with some laughter exercise on the Green just before Senator Bob Duff opens Mental Health Awareness Month with an official proclamation from Governor Malloy. We will be joined by state and local officials including Senator Toni Boucher and Representatives Cristin McCarthy-Vahey, Chris Perone, Jonathan Steinberg, Fred Wilms, and Terrie Wood.

Walk with us down East Avenue (1 mile round trip), check out the Labyrinth, Healing Garden and Hope-Pray-Dream Board at St. Paul’s Church, or just come to show your support for the cause of mental health especially now when state funding is so much at risk. Free admission and complimentary purple bandannas for all.

RSVP to or (203) 840-1187 to let us know how many people will be walking with you.

The Walk kicks off a calendar of almost 50 events across the region in honor of Mental Health Awareness Month including movies, talks, trainings, and more. Find the full calendar of regional events at

Mental illness touches almost every family in Connecticut. Nearly 20% of adults experience some type of mental illness in any given year with anxiety and depression as the most common disorders. Substance use is often a co-occurring issue. Last year, 917 Connecticut residents died of a drug overdose, a 25% increase over 2015. Suicide is now the leading cause of death in children ages 10-14 (ahead of motor vehicle accidents). Unfortunately, mental illness often goes undetected or untreated which can worsen symptoms and lead to hospitalization. In fact, mental health and substance use disorders are the leading causes of hospitalization in Connecticut among residents ages 5-44.

Treatment is highly effective for the vast majority of people with mental illness. Yet despite the positive outcomes that treatment offers, the State of Connecticut has cut funding to mental health providers for the past two years and threatens even more cuts this year.

According to Margaret Watt, Executive Director of the Southwest Regional Mental Health Board (SWRMHB), research on mental health providers in southwest Connecticut conducted by the agency in 2015 and 2016 showed significantly increased caseloads, longer patient wait times to get an appointment with a clinician, the turning away of clients and elimination of programs that serve our region’s most needy. “The mental health system is bare bones and cannot withstand further budget cuts. Your participation in Fairfield County Walks for Mental Health on May 6th is really needed to show our legislators you care,” Ms. Watt said.

SWRMHB extends a special thanks to the Walk's planning committee: Advocacy Unlimited, Mid-Fairfield Child Guidance Center, Communities 4 Action, Keystone House, Mid-Fairfield Substance Abuse Coalition, Mid-Fairfield Substance Abuse Coalition, NAMI Southwest, NAMI Fairfield, Positive Directions, Recovery Network of Programs, RIPPLE, and Silver Hill Hospital. The Walk is funded by SWRMHB and NAMI Southwest.

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