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A Summer of Advocacy: Fun Ways to Raise Awareness about the Importance of Mental Health

Carrie Steckl, Ph.D.: Tue, May 28th 2013

Summer means hot weather, barbecues, vacations, and a host of other fun activities. To my husband and me, summer also means running. While we run on the treadmill during the off-season, there's nothing like getting outside again to run in the sunshine (and yes, the heat, which we don't even mind).

marathon runnersEven though we like running, we usually need some concrete goals to keep us on schedule. To do this, we sign up for a handful of 5K and 10K races each year. And while there's never a shortage of running events occurring in the area, we always try to participate in charity runs if we can. If we're going to put our efforts toward something as significant as a physically challenging run, why not help a good cause while we're at it?

If you're reading this blog, then I'm assuming that mental health is a priority for you. Perhaps you or someone you care about struggles with mental health issues, or maybe you are simply committed to nurturing your mental health. Why not further the cause by signing up for some charity athletic events that raise awareness about mental health promotion, services, or the eradication of stigma?

Not a runner? No worries - many charity athletic events are walks, bike rides, or other more palatable activities. Many of them are non-competitive, because the goal is simply to have fun while helping out a good cause. To find events near you, search the robust database at

Here are some examples of events occurring around the country this summer to get you started:

  • NAMI Walks: The National Alliance on Mental Illness holds walks throughout the country to raise awareness about mental illness and to raise funds for mental health services. Click here to find a walk near you.
  • Out of the Darkness Walks: The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention holds 3-5 mile walks in communities and on campuses across the country to raise awareness about depression and suicide and to raise money for research and education programs to prevent suicide. The foundation also holds a challenging, 16-18 mile overnight walk once a year in rotating cities. For more information about all Out of the Darkness Walks, click here.
  • I Rock the Walk for Mental Health Awareness: Here's a great example of a local event organized by a group of dedicated individuals who want to raise awareness of the importance of mental health. Click here to learn more about this inspiring event (note that I found it on

Have you participated in a charity athletic event to further the cause of mental health or another important issue? Share your experiences here; you just might inspire someone!


Carrie Steckl, Ph.D.

Itís a true blessing to have you visit my blog on mental health and wellness. I also write blogs on faith and caregiving in addition to teaching part-time for Columbia College of Missouri. For more information about my background and writing, visit my webpage at

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