COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado — Saturday morning, the field at Monument Valley Park filled with people showing their support for anyone battling mental illness.
Part of a nationwide effort, the NAMIwalks Colorado Springs is a way for those who suffer, or have loved ones suffering, with mental health problems to connect with one another.
"NAMI really helped me," said Cheryl Baeza, a mother in Colorado Springs.
Baeza's son was diagnosed with what we now know as ADHD when he was 8-years old, and Schizophrenia at 19-years old.
"I thought - Gee this is the end of the world, but it really isn't," said Baeza, reflecting on when she was first told her son's diagnosis.
"He is today 53-years old, he's had quite a journey," said Baeza.
Kirk Woundy, Associate Executive Director for NAMI Colorado Springs, says one key way to cope with the challenges that come from mental illness is to build a community.
"Mental illness can be a really isolating thing, and so for people going through something that can be really difficult and isolating, and for them to get a sense that they're really not alone... I think it hugely important," said Woundy.
According to Doctor Leon Kenny, El Paso County's Coroner, the county had roughly 180 suicides in 2020. As of now, 2021's suicides are down by 20.
"The number one thing that had to change is the culture, the culture of acknowledging when folks have a problem, knowing where those resources are, and feeling comfortable to reach out to them, and I think that's why we're starting to see a change in those suicide numbers."
NAMI offers free resources for those struggle with mental illness, a full list can be found here.
Other resources in Colorado Springs include: