Vietnam Vet is Crusader for mental illness awareness

Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee (center) with supporters of the Houston Walk for Mental Health Awareness - Houston
Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee (center) with supporters of the Houston Walk for Mental Health Awareness – Houston

Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee recognizes 5K Walk founder

By Allan Jamail

Saturday, October 7, 2017 — Harris County Attorney Vince Ryan started the The Walk Houston 2017, which is all about a Step in the Lime Light, taking Mental Illness center stage. The 5K walk with 317 registered walkers some from the North Channel area completed the 3 plus miles and Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee greeted them at the end.

Congresswoman Lee presented C. Patrick McIlvain, a Vietnam Vet, the founder of the Houston Walk, with a Congressional Certificate commending him for his valuable services. Lee said years ago when no one else would talk about mental illness it was McIlvain who began a one-man crusade refusing to allow it to remain silent. He spoke on mental illness at council meetings and anywhere else he could get a listening ear. His relentless effort put so much attention on mental health issues the Houston medical field has experienced an increase in awareness resulting in better funding and services that’s credited for saving lives and healing thousands.

McIlvain said, “This year’s 7th Walk/Expo, hosted by The Walk for Mental Health Awareness – Houston, is very important because of the need to return to normalcy and stability from dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey’s flooding. Now more than ever there’s going to be a much greater need for 501.c agencies that offer mental health services and our support to their clients. Our family, friends and neighbors need to know where to go for mental health services and support; they do not have to deal with the daily challenges of mental illness by themselves.”

McIlvain concluded by stating, “At our walk we do not have a finish line as there are no finishes here. Here we are about people achieving personal breakthrough on their journey of living with a mental illness. Perhaps they are now able to publicly say they too have a face and a life of dealing with mental illness and they are saying that #NoStigmaHere and they have joined us in #TakingOurDignityBack.”

The Walk Houston is a 501.c-3 full voluntary run organization, having its event held during National Mental Health Week in October. The walk venue allows agencies to use it as a fundraiser for themselves. The first 6 walks have helped raise and disperse over $130,000.00 for Greater Houston area nonprofit agencies.

Students from The University of Houston Student Government Association were present and said on average 1,100 college students take their lives each year and they hope to end the stigma around mental illness.

For those struggling under the weight of depression or a mental illness, past failures, or harmful relationships, everyday living can feel like a death sentence. The physical, mental and emotional suffering steals the heart out of life and if left untreated, will ultimately destroy them. There is help and there is hope, but you can only find this by reaching outside of yourself. The Walk for Mental Health Awareness – Houston is a celebration of the hope of life after mental illness and a call to action by people in the community.

Left to right: North Channel participants Allan Jamail and Linda Jamail with Founding Director C. Patrick McIlvain of The Walk for Mental Health Awareness – Houston