March down Eagle’s main street promotes mental health awareness | VailDaily.com

March down Eagle’s main street promotes mental health awareness

EAGLE — A crowd that was more than 100 strong walked their talk Tuesday morning as they marched down Broadway Street in support of mental health awareness.

Technically, they walked their T-shirt slogans, as a number of them sported the bright-green apparel that proclaimed "We are in this together."

At the end of their walk, the marchers climbed the stairs to the Eagle County Room to listen as the county commissioners read a proclamation designating May as Mental Health Awareness Month. But even as they declared the special designation, the commissioners stressed their commitment to improving local mental health services wouldn't wane when June arrives.

The commissioners noted they have made the development of available and appropriate mental health services one of the county's strategic goals.

That's a welcome promise for families and individuals who are struggling to find the services they need locally. Agnes Harakal, the Eagle woman who organized the march and who has been instrumental in an educational effort called Changing Minds, has shared her story of struggling to find appropriate treatment for her son. To find the treatment they needed, the Harakal family had to travel all of the way to Grand Junction and that meant their son was removed from his support network as he recovered.

In the near future, the Changing Minds group hopes to fund the creation of local resources. In the present, they want people to launch a discussion of mental illness and generate community awareness and support.

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'Essential for everyone'

When she considered the challenge of raising awareness for mental health issues, Harakal figured nothing was more public than a parade. So she organized one.

As she addressed the march participants crowded into the Eagle County Room on Tuesday, Commissioner Jeanne McQueeny said, "This started with an idea from Agnes that we should have a parade. We said, 'Just how many people do you thing that will bring?' As you see, it filled this room."

Harakal confessed she originally thought there might only be a dozen or so marchers. But the walk attracted school students, law enforcement people and concerned citizens.

"I think this does show the love and support in the community for mental health issues," Harakal said.

Sarah Kennedy, of the Total Health Alliance, agreed.

"Mental health is essential for everyone," Kennedy said, as she spoke to the commissioners. "We all have a role to play and we are all in this together."