WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWTI) — The Jefferson County Mental Health Awareness Committee is hosting the 17th annual Mental Health awareness walk in Watertown on May 18.

The walk will begin at 10:30 a.m. at the Dulles State Office Building on Washington Street and will proceed to the Thompson Park Pavilion. Registration for the event will begin at 8:30 a.m. at the State Office Building.

The kickoff will begin at 9 a.m. with a Proclamation by Bill Johnson who is the Chairmen of the Jefferson County Board of Legislators. The guest speaker will be Licensed Mental Health Counselor Rodger Hicks. Behavioral Health and Substance Abuse Coordinator at North Country Family Health Center Robert Bowen explained the inspiration for the event.

“I think the inspiration was that there was such a stigma and that all these multiple agencies were working so hard on trying to stop the stigma and felt like maybe we could get out and show what mental wellness looks like, what a mental health awareness looks like,” Bowen said. “Wearing green, showing that this is a survivable kind of thing. This is something that we’re about 50% of people in our nation go through, according to the CDC.”

Bowen stressed the importance of focusing on mental health, keeping our minds healthy, and having the tools to do so.

“Everybody’s really kind of understood that in the last couple of years, mental health really does kind of matter,” Bowen said. “It’s just like medical health. It is about your health. It’s about your wellness and maintaining that wellness and too often or not, we’re not really taught how to maintain that wellness.”

Mental Health Resources at the event will include representatives from North Country Family Health Center, Samaritan Medical Center, Anchor Recovery Center of Northern New York, the Arc Jefferson-St. Lawrence, Transition Living Services, Credo Community Center, Planned Parenthood, NRCIL, the Children’s Home of Jefferson Couty, and the Mental Health Association in Jefferson County. Bowen said it’s important to provide the public with the information they need in an effort to promote mental health.

“Raising awareness that this can happen, that you can call somebody that you can reach out, that there are resources for anybody to reach out to, that is again where we can fix or where we can help somebody with their struggles,” Bowen said.