Mental health advocates hold walk at Dorothea Dix campus
Posted May 4, 2013
Raleigh, N.C. — Trying to make sure the mentally ill in North Carolina receive the attention and support they need, more than 1,500 people gathered on the Dorothea Dix campus Saturday for an annual walk and fundraiser.
Sponsored by the National Alliance on Mental Illness, Saturday’s walk was part of an effort to raise more than $150,000 for mental health services many families need, but can’t afford.
Many in attendance cited recent mass shootings and spending cuts as two reasons the state and nation’s healthcare systems are at a crossroads.
“Services are being cut. It’s harder to get services. You wait longer,” concerned mom Lisa Jennings said.
Vickie Carpenter agreed.
“We were totally lost,” Carpenter said of how the cuts impacted her family. “I felt like I had just fallen into a black hole.”
NAMI helped Carpenter get on track with support groups and free education classes when her son was diagnosed with schizophrenia.
“I think my son is alive today because of what I learned in that class about mental illness,” she said. “[I learned] about how to take care of someone who has a mental illness, and how to take care of myself.”
Organizers of Saturday’s walk also pointed to ongoing discussions in the General Assembly about the City of Raleigh’s deal with the state to transform Dorothea Dix into an urban park and business center.
The state Senate voted three weeks ago to pull back from a deal signed by Gov. Bev Perdue during the last days of her administration. The agreement, say Republican senators, gives the property too cheaply, starting at $500,000 per year. They also complained that Perdue, a Democrat, rushed through the deal at the last minute, ignoring calls to study the state's options more thoroughly.
Backers of the park deal, including the Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane, said the state should not go back on its word and note that a park has been the topic of discussion since the state began making moves to shut down the state mental hospital there a decade ago.
NAMI believes that state should renegotiate the lease with the city for fair market value with a percentage of the proceeds directed to mental health.
“We need to fund wellness and recovery,” NAMI NC Executive Director Deby Dihoff said. “That is what this event is about, it’s celebrating that recovery is possible. But it helps to have a few bucks to put towards it.”