Written By Kim Salada, NAMI Seattle volunteer and trained facilitator.

Let’s face it. We are not being inundated with good news these days. Quite the opposite, in fact. Pandemic, injustice, unrest, now fires. The heaviness can be hard to avoid – and I don’t know about you, but it was doing my mental health no favors.

Which, well… my brain has enough issues of its own to contend with already!

So when I started thinking about what to do for my NAMIWalk, my first thought was something to combat the negativity building inside me and within my communities. I came up with a number of ideas and it felt good to think about positive stuff for once – so I decided to make my goal a “Better September” – one thing a day to help my mental health, others, or possibly the world.

I’ve kept it up for almost two weeks now, learned a lot, and feel more fulfilled for doing so. Plus, I’ve gotten to

            • Donate a number of items to my local food bank, a women’s and family shelter, and my local children’s hospital

            • Buy extra stamps and goods to support the United States Postal Service and a fair election

            • Share resources with my social network on healthy communication strategies 

            • Promote the crisis text line (741-741) for Suicide Awareness Day

            • Protect my family and others by getting our flu shots

            • Donate to a recently passed friend’s foundation for keeping kids safe online

With the hazardous air as a stark reminder, I’ll be dedicating next week’s actions to challenging climate change.

Of course, all of this is not to forget NAMI – the organization at the heart of this fundraiser and why I’m “walking” for a Better September in the first place. 

I discovered and got involved with NAMI last year as a volunteer and then trained as an Ending the Silence presenter and Peer-to-Peer leader just before the pandemic shut everything down. I’m so grateful for the opportunities I’ve gotten already and only wish NAMI had entered my life sooner.

I grew up struggling with my mental health as a teenager and battled undiagnosed bipolar disorder for a decade as I repeatedly failed to find the structure, I needed to help myself. Painful work, great support, many meds, definitely some luck, and lots of years later, I’m happily married with two great kids and generally enjoying life (when I’m allowed outside, anyway…)

I love working with NAMI because it is easy to see that the work we do and the resources we provide are exactly the types of things that could have made my journey to recovery so much smoother. Anything I can do to amplify that work will only help more people like me.

And so, while NAMI runs awesome educational programs and support groups, I NAMIWalks for a Better September.