Photos from the End the Stigma Mental Health Awareness 5K and Forum on Sept. 15, 2018 in Carlisle.
When Linda Benton went to Annual Conference in 2018 as a lay delegate, she didn’t expect to walk away with a mission from God.
“I attended one of the workshops about mental health, and God put a bug in my ear,” she said. “I just thought, ‘Linda, you’ve got to do something with this.’”
She came back to her church in Carlisle intending to host a forum about the stigma surrounding mental health. She happened to mention her idea to a couple of high school seniors and their mothers, and the two young women jumped on the idea.
“They had a friend who had died by suicide, and suggested adding 5K to the forum,” said Benton. “The stigma around mental health is so strong. People don’t want others to know they are struggling, and we need to make sure they know they can reach out.”
With that suggestion, the End the Stigma Mental Health Awareness 5K was born.
The young women created flyers and brochures for promoting the 5K and forum, and when they went off to college this fall, their mothers and Linda picked up where they left off.
The church and many businesses in the community pitched in to help with the event. Church members made baked goods, Staples donated the flyers, Fareway donated snacks for the runners, and the local police and fire department sent officers and EMTs for the event.
36 people attended the forum after the race. Speakers included a social worker, pastor, middle school pastor, and members from the Mobile Crisis Response team.
“All the speakers were outstanding,” said Benton. “I’m glad we could talk about the need for people to share if they are having issues.”
For more information on how you can help and to register for Mental Health Trainings in your community, go to www.iaumc.org/mentalhealthinitiative