Last Sunday, October 2, St. John United Church of Christ held the 17 th annual
candlelight vigil for the Four County National Alliance for Mental Illness. The service
was opened by a few speakers from NAMI, Les McCaslin and Ron Hofacker, The
explained what their organization is all about: giving support and education for the
individuals who live with mental illness and families of those who live with mental
illness. They said that they strive to help the public better understand mental health.
After explaining what NAMI was all about, there was an array of
presentations. The Tacketts, a local family band, performed a few heart-warming
songs, one with their two young daughters. The pastor of St. John United Church of
Christ, Jim Brehler, spoke on how faith can be tied in to getting through the
complications of mental illness. At the end of the service, everyone gathered at the
front of the church, were given signs and candles, and walked around campus to
give awareness to NAMI and mental health issues.
In the middle of the service, after hearing from the leaders of NAMI, a woman
was invited up onto the stage to talk about her own experience with mental illness.
She explained that her mother suffered from depression and her sister suffered
from bipolar disorder. Growing up surrounded by people that are struggling with
their mental health was hard on her, she continued, and when she got older, she
suffered from anxiety. The part of her life that she focused on was her son, who
suffered from multiple mental illnesses, even from a young age. Throughout the
story, one is led to believe that the story ends happily ever after, but she ended by
explaining that her son still suffers from schizophrenia.
Mental illness is a rough thing to have to endure, and it is not an easy thing to
overcome. If the woman’s speech taught nothing else, it was that mental illness is
not simply fixed by a few doctors, medication, and therapy; it takes a lot of time,
commitment, and support. People who suffer from mental illness are not alone in
their struggle, and there will always be organizations like NAMI and people like
those who attended this vigil that will provide the support they need.
Photo by Nami Four County
Written by Erin Conner