WHEELING, W.Va. (WTRF) – NAMI is the National Alliance for Mental Illness in Greater Wheeling and is the only national alliance affiliate in the entire state of West Virginia. 

This 7th Annual Walk for Mental Health Awareness works with several community partners and residents in the Ohio Valley to start a conversation about what mental illnesses look like, and to empower one another to end the stigma behind mental illness. 

Mintie Ross has been a member of NAMI for 28 years now and says that her time volunteering and helping others has saved her from being homeless and an alcoholic with a mental health condition herself. 

“I will not give up, because NAMI taught me 25 years ago that I have something that I could fight for: Friends, and NAMI, and that’s what they helped me with – everything. They helped me with my cancer, my mental illness, my addiction…”

Mintie Ross – Wheeling, W.Va.

1 in 5 people live with a mental illness, but only 40% of people with a mental illness get treatment.  

The reason people don’t get help? Stigma.  

This is why councilwoman, Rosemary Ketchum sits on the NAMI Board of Directors to assist in building programming, fundraising, and event management. 

She says that the amount of participation, especially among young people, makes her hopeful for the future. 

“We don’t get to have this conversation a lot here in the Ohio Valley or even throughout the state of West Virginia about the importance of our mental health, so my involvement is just a small part of the incredible work that we’re doing,” she emphasized.

The walk kicked off with the reading of affirmations that everyone wrote down and threw to the center for someone else to pick up and read. 

This is all part of continuing the conversation here, and hopefully to spread to the rest of the Ohio Valley.