WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWTI) — The greater Watertown community has taken steps to support those struggling with their mental health.

Mental health conditions are on the rise. Data from the World Health Organization states that depression is one of the leading causes of disability and suicide is the leading cause of death among those 15 to 29 years of age.

This is an issue local communities have also faced, according to North Country Family Health Center Behavioral Health Substance Use Care Coordinator Robert Bowen.

“Almost 2 out of 4 people are requesting services,” Bowen said. “So that’s about 50% of the population needing some kind of services.”

To address the ongoing issue, the Mental Health Association of Jefferson County partnered with several local agencies to host the 17th Annual Mental Health Awareness Walk in the City of Watertown.

The event brought people to the Dulles State Office Building, where a proclamation was read by the Jefferson County Board of Legislators Chair William Johnson and community members shared testimonies.

This included Emily Mack, who works at the Mental Health Association but also shared her story of mental health struggles.

“I suffer from mental health issues myself,” Mack explained. “I like to support other people with mental health issues. It’s important to break the stigmas. Too many people are afraid to talk about their own mental health.”

But the mental health walk was a safe space where over 200 registrants could be honest without judgment and eliminate any stigmas.

“When we share and we open up, it’s not a secret,” Bowen added. “It’s something we can share, and build, and grow, and offer resources and support.”