When Is Mental Illness A Laughing Matter?

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) 5K NAMIWalk San Francisco Bay Area is Saturday, June 2nd in Golden Gate Park’s Lindley Meadow. Comedian Brian Wetzel will kick-off the 2012 walk during the Opening Ceremony at 10:30 am.
NAMIWalk SF Bay Area START Line
NAMIWalk SF Bay Area START Line
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San Francisco Bay Area - California - US

May 25, 2012 - PRLog -- 8th Annual NAMIWalk SF Bay Area June 2nd in Golden Gate Park’s Lindley Meadow raises funds, educates the public and helps remove stigma

(San Francisco, CA) The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) 5K NAMIWalk San Francisco Bay Area is Saturday, June 2nd in Golden Gate Park’s Lindley Meadow.  Funds raised through donations and corporate sponsors directly benefit nine San Francisco Bay Area NAMI affiliates in Alameda, Alameda County South, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz and Solano counties that work together to help keep NAMI’s mental health programs and services FREE in their community.

NAMI is the nation's largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to improving the lives of individuals and families affected by mental illness.  In 2011, the NAMIWalk SF Bay Area raised over $363,000 which was shared among the seven affiliates participating last year.  

Comedian and lecturer Brian Wetzel will help kick-off the 2012 NAMIWalk SF Bay Area during the Opening Ceremony at 10:30 a.m.  As a professional stand-up comedian, Wetzel’s career and personal life were absorbed by his struggle with clinical depression and subsequent drug addiction. In September 2004, Wetzel merged his sense of humor and life experiences to create an autobiographical comedic stage show.  He talks openly about his own struggles and helps broach the sensitive societal topics of clinical depression, dual diagnosis (depression/addiction) and bi-polar disorder (BPD).

“Mental illness is not funny, but finding the fine line of humor about it can be a helpful survival tool,” according to Wetzel who takes his audiences on a unique journey of laughter by facing painful truths.  By finding the humor in his own situation, he has developed a powerful way to teach others about what it’s like living with mental illness that helps remove misconceptions and stigma associated with it.

“I wish I had known about NAMI 20 years ago when I first started fighting depression.  As soon as I walked through the door of NAMI’s affiliate in Sonoma County, NAMI staff and volunteers understood what I was going through. They helped point me in the right direction for programs and services,” he continued.  

Since 2004, Wetzel has given presentations and workshops in venues from Stanford University to Napa State Mental Hospital, and today he performs his unique brand of humor for numerous NAMI affiliates across the country (www.wetzelproductions.com).

“NAMI affiliates are a good starting point and great resource for those dealing with mental illness and their families when they don’t know where to begin or who to turn to for help. The NAMIWalk SF Bay Area fundraiser is so important to help keep NAMI services free,” he added.

Proceeds from the 2012 walk will continue to be used locally to underwrite and support the mental health programs provided by nine Bay Area NAMI affiliates most needed in their local area as a FREE public service, including:
•   Family to Family, a multi-week support and education course for family members of people with mental illness,
•   Parents and Teachers as Allies, an in-service program helping school professionals better understand the early warning signs of mental illnesses in children,
•   In Our Own Voice, an anti-stigma speaker’s bureau helps educate about mental health issues from schizophrenia to bi-polar disorder (BPD) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and more,
•   Multi-cultural agency partnerships that provide classes and education materials in Spanish and Chinese,
•   Veteran’s Resource Center provides support for veterans and active duty personnel dealing with mental health issues such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and support groups for their family members,
•   NAMI also advocates politically locally and nationally for improved public policies addressing the needs of the mentally ill and their families.

Registration is free for walkers.  Funds are raised through donations by walk team supporters and sponsors. Corporate sponsors include biotechnology giant Genentech (Premiere Sponsor) and information technology giant Hitachi (Presenting Sponsor). These new 2012 sponsors join Mary Alexander a Presenting Sponsor returning for a second year and Dixon Financial Services and John Muir Behavioral Health which have been Presenting Sponsors for eight years running.  It is through donations to walk-teams and generous sponsors like these that allow the important work of non-profit NAMI affiliates to continue providing free services and programs in the San Francisco Bay Area.

WHAT:   8th Annual NAMIWalk Fundraiser - 5K (3 miles) & shorter 2K walk routes.  
(Register as an individual, join a team or create your own. )

WHEN:   Saturday, June 2, 2012
9:00 AM (On-site Registration & Check-in), 10:30 AM (Opening Ceremony)
11:00 AM (Walk Starts), Post-Walk to 2 PM (live music, info booths, food for purchase
from vendor.  Or, bring a picnic lunch. )

WHERE:   Lindley Meadow, Golden Gate Park (next to Speedway Meadow)
30th Ave and John F Kennedy Drive, San Francisco, CA, 94121

COST:      FREE to Registered Walkers (thanks to sponsor donations)
(Children under 18 are welcome with a guardian. Dogs on leashes okay.)

FOR MORE INFORMATION or to REGISTER:  Call Walk Director, Laurie Williams, at 1-800-556-2401 or email info@namiwalkSFbay.org.  Or click this link to visit the NAMIWalk SF Bay Area website at: http://www.nami.org/walkTemplate.cfm?Section=NAMIWALKS&te...

ABOUT NAMI: Founded in 1979, The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) is a non-profit, grassroots organization with over 1,000 affiliates nationwide that provides education, support services and advocacy to improve the lives of everyone affected by mental illness. NAMI had its origins in San Mateo County, California in 1974 through Parents of Adult Schizophrenics at a time when mothers were being blamed for causing mental illness. Today, NAMI is as the most formidable grassroots mental health advocacy organization in the country. For information, visit www.NAMI.org.

[NOTE to Producers, Assignment Editors and Reporters:  Interviews and/or comments are available in the days leading up to and on-site the day of the NAMIWalk SF Bay Area on Saturday, June 2, 2012 between 9:30-1:00 pm in Lindley Meadow in Golden Gate Park, San Francisco.  Contact the author of this press release via email to arrange.]
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Page Updated Last on: May 25, 2012
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