‘NAMIwalks’ brings mental health awareness to El Paso


SalmaPaola Baca

“NAMIwalks El Paso” gathered around Ascarate park to raise funds and promote mental health awareness Oct. 8.

Sophia Villalobos and

NAMIwalks El Paso gathered around Ascarate park to raise funds and promote mental health awareness Oct. 8.  Registration began at 8 a.m. and people from all over the community joined to show their support and raise funds. NAMI El Paso is an affiliate of the non-profit National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI).  

According to NAMI El Paso’s website, it started as a grassroot organization in 1986, when Elvia Rubalcava, Clifford J. Reuschlein, and Gregorio Lunahey saw the lack of support and resources for mental health here in El Paso.  

Their initiative was to provide a space for the community to feel safe and get the resources needed to treat mental health illnesses. NAMIwalks is a national organization that promotes mental health awareness around the country through walks. There are over 100 walks happening throughout the nation.  

“We brought NAMI walks to El Paso in hopes of creating a platform and building an event where individuals can talk about mental health in a positive way,” said Isidro Torres, executive director for NAMI El Paso. “We want to make sure we have mental health conversations before something bad happens, or irreversible like suicide.” 

The event promotes mental health support by giving the community a chance to share their stories and raise awareness. Unfortunately, living in a Hispanic community, mental health stigma still affects our community.  

Torres expressed the lack of mental health professionals as an obstacle to receive mental health.  

“El paso had a shortage of mental health professionals, Mental Health for America has ranked Texas low on the list of mental health access,” Torres said. “One in five US adults live with a mental health condition, and 1 in 4 youth live with mental health conditions.” 

This means that out of five people you know, one of them is struggling with a mental health condition. NAMI provides a space where fear, shame, and stigma are put aside, and difficult conversations are had to better the overall mental health of our community.  

NAMIwalks is a free annual family event where pets are welcome. They invite our community to have conversations about mental health issues. NAMIwalks El Paso is the biggest fundraiser of the year for NAMI El Paso.  

For its 12th consecutive year, NAMIwalks has served as a platform for our community to know where to access mental health treatment and spread awareness on mental health conditions.  

“We want to spread the message that living with a mental health condition or living with someone who has a mental health condition is common, it’s okay, and give our community the resources to address it,” Torres said. 

For more information visit https://www.namiep.org/ 

Sophia Villalobos is a contributor and may be reached at [email protected]