Mental Health Awareness Walk this Saturday, May 22

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PREVIEW photo/Randi Pierce

By John Finefrock
Rise Above Violence

The Mental Health Awareness Walk is this Saturday, May 22, and you are invited to this free event.

The walk was started in 2019 by Sarah Ross and Diana Scott, who were seniors at Pagosa Springs High School at the time.

In her speech at the walk in 2019, Ross explained the meaning behind the event’s tagline:“P.S. It’s Okay,” which is also being used this year.

“Today I want to be the first to say to all of you at once: P.S. It’s Okay. Pagosa Springs — it’s OK to talk about mental health and I hope after today you pass on that message to yourself, the people around you and it spreads further than this town,” Ross said.

This year, the seventh- through 12th-grade students of YouthRise are planning the event. They wished to continue the vision set forth by Ross and Scott two years ago, citing that mental health among young people has not been great amid the struggles and lack of in-person social interaction during the COVID-19 pandemic — and that mental health is not talked about openly in their lives.

They wanted to tell our community: People with mental health issues are not alone — and there is help.

The walk will start at 10 a.m. at Town Park on Saturday and meander up main street, eventually ending at Yamaguchi Park, where informational booths will be set up with mental health resources and our guest speaker, Ethan Fisher, will speak around 11 a.m.

Fisher grew up in a family that didn’t talk about mental health. He self-medicated throughout his teenage years, and developed a years-long battle with alcoholism and substance abuse that ultimately landed him in jail with a three-year prison sentence. Fisher has been sober since 2004 and was the first athlete in Colorado to play college basketball on “inmate status” during his sentence, where he earned all-conference and Most Valuable Player awards.

The first 50 people to register for the walk will receive a free event T-shirt and some are still available. You can register by sending an email to john@riseaboveviolence.org or by calling or texting (970) 403-5461. 

Rise Above Violence is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that provides 24-hour support and advocacy services for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault or other forms of violence. Visit www.riseaboveviolence.org for more information or call (970) 264-9075 to talk to an advocate today.