Hundreds takes part in NAMI’s Mental Health Awareness Walk at Loan Depot Park

MIAMI-DADE —  Hundreds woke up early Saturday morning to participate in NAMI’s Mental Health Awareness…

MIAMI-DADE —  Hundreds woke up early Saturday morning to participate in NAMI’s Mental Health Awareness Walk at LoanDepot Park to bring attention to the importance of understanding mental illness.

One of the participants, Debbie Fiegel, shares her reason for participating.

“I’m here walking for my brother who had what we call treatment-resistant depression, and he tried to get help for several months before ending up taking his own life in December right before Christmas,” Fiegel said.

“It’s essential for families to understand mental illness as well. This is not something that a person with the illness can help. It’s not something that they can treat themselves for and think their way out of.”

NAMI reports that suicide-related ER visits by children and young adults have soared between 2011 and 2020.

“We are seeing a lot more anxiety and depression in the community. But we are also seeing much more willingness to recognize those more serious and chronic mental health issues like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder,” said Susan Holtzman with NAMI Walks Miami-Dade.

A helpful tool we are seeing in Miami-Dade and the Keys is a relatively new mobile response team that can get to someone in a crisis as quickly as 30 minutes.

“We fund a mobile response team network so that people go out, they’re not law enforcement, and they help people solve a crisis,” Dr. John Newcomer with Thriving Mind South Florida said.

“Then where do you go? Where do they get taken? We fund a whole number of crisis stabilization units and other facilities in the communities.”

Mayor Daniella Levine Cava, who was at NAMI’s Miami-Dade Walk, speaks about mental health.

“You don’t know maybe around you who’s really struggling, who’s really suffering, so be kind to everybody. If you see someone in distress, reach out.”

If you or a loved one know or are suffering, you can call 988 to be connected to services.

CBS News Miami commits to bringing awareness to mental health and provides online resources here.