“Walk a Mile in My Shoes” rally draws nearly a thousand people to State Capitol

(UPDATE 11:00 P.M.) LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – Earlier this afternoon, nearly a thousand people rallied at the state Capitol asking lawmakers to “Walk a Mile in Their Shoes.”

The annual rally, organized by the National Alliance of Mental Illness, or NAMI, was intended to let state lawmakers know their attempts to privatize Michigan’s public behavioral health system is something they oppose.

“Walk a mile in my shoes!”…that was the message chanted loud and clear as nearly a thousand people from all across Michigan gathered at the state Capitol.

“What we are here for is to let legislators know that we matter,” said Detroit Native Emma Avery.

Life hasn’t always been easy for Avery but she doesn’t let it bring her down.

“I’ve never looked at myself or considered myself being a handicapped person…I always tell people I’m a person who acquired a minor inconvenience on her way through life,” Avery stated.

Avery says she hopes this rally will erase the stigma of mental illness not just here in Michigan, but nationwide and co-organizer Bob Sheehan agrees.

He says mental health is often misunderstood and constituents in Michigan want to make sure lawmakers, healthcare providers and taxpayers understand the need for a strong public mental healthcare system.

“Mental health needs are real and treatable…there’s a public safety net in Michigan that’s being threatened…some people want to privatize that public safety net that people who are taxpayers expect to be there for themselves and their loved ones…our job today is to reinforce that the system needs to remain,” said Bob Sheehan; CEO of Michigan Association of Community Mental Health Boards.

And for Avery, her motive is simple…provide a voice for the voiceless.

“Be proud of who you are,” said Avery.

It’s a message she hopes echoes through the state Capitol.

 

LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – Earlier this afternoon, nearly a thousand people rallied at the state Capitol asking lawmakers to “Walk a Mile in Their Shoes.”

They focused on concerns over the state’s behavioral healthcare system and the people that gathered today oppose state legislator’s attempts to privatize Michigan’s public behavioral health system.

Many want their voices heard and hope that today’s rally will help combat the stigma of mental health not just in Michigan…but nationwide.

The annual rally organized by the National Alliance of Mental Illness, or NAMI, has gone on more than a decade hoping to pin-point the importance of mental healthcare and treatment.

6 News spoke to one of the organizers who says mental health is often misunderstood and constituents in Michigan want to make sure lawmakers, healthcare providers and taxpayers understand the need for a strong public mental healthcare system.

“Our hope for today’s rally is that these three-thousand people who were here today are heard by the House and Senate members…we have many friends in the House and Senate we want to make sure that they know we have their back…and to make sure that people who receive services in our system reinforce their political voice by reinforcing the idea in House and Senate members heads that they’re voters and they’re key constituents,” said Bob Sheehan; CEO of the Michigan Association of Community Mental Health Boards.

Tonight on 6 News at 11, you’ll hear from a woman who has a strong message for state lawmakers and says she wants to give a voice to the voiceless.

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