Mental illness in family spurs local woman to action

May 11, 2013

By Staff

New: May 11, 1:19 p.m.

As the wife of a doctor, Sherrill Bohart has been an eyewitness to the suffering created by mental illness.

The Sammamish resident saw patients of her husband shuffled through the public health system without any long-term resolution for the person afflicted with the crippling condition. And even less support for their friends and family.

Sherrill Bohart and her son, Craig Bohart, pose in front of Safeco Field. Craig Bohart graduated with honors with a degree in physics from the University of Washington. He works part time and lives on his own in Tacoma. Contributed

Sherrill Bohart and her son, Craig Bohart, pose in front of Safeco Field. Craig Bohart graduated with honors with a degree in physics from the University of Washington. He works part time and lives on his own in Tacoma.
Contributed

As the mother of a teenage boy diagnosed with a mental illness, Bohart was forced to move her son in and out of hospitals in four different states before she found doctors in Seattle who were able to help her son and provide the support she so desperately needed.

“Mental health is something that should not be hidden behind closed doors. Everybody knows somebody who has been affected by mental illness,” said Bohart. “It’s nothing to be ashamed of.”

Bohart feels strongly that the education and support she received from the National Association on Mental Health (NAMI) helped her cope with her son’s diagnosis. That’s why she has taken part in the annual NAMI Walk staged every year to support the non-profit organization.

The ninth annual NAMI Walk is scheduled for May 18, starting from Marina Park in Kirkland. Bohart is legally blind, but she’ll be at this year’s NAMI Walk to hand out t-shirts and provide morale support for the walkers.

“The popularity of the movie Silver Linings Playbook helped to bring mental illness out of the shadows,” explained Christine Lindquist, executive director of NAMI in Seattle. “This fictional movie and the recent tragedy at Sandy Hook have increased then need for more education as well as the demand for additional resources to deal with mental illness.

“The walk will help us respond to that demand here locally in Washington.”

The statewide organization hopes to generate $250,000 from the annual event to fund free classes, provide extensive education and support programs for both individuals and families impacted by mental illness. According to Lindquist, all programs are lead by volunteers and all proceeds from the Walk will be put to work right here in Washington.

The 5K route will follow the shoreline of Lake Washington to Carillon Point and the loop back to the downtown park. There is still time for individuals to form a team to make the walk together and join in the festivities at the finish line.

Technology has made registration and generating donations easier than ever. Each participant will be provided an individual walker page on the Web to post personal messages and track the progress of donations. The accounting will all be coordinated behind the scenes, which means personal and team pages will be updated automatically to track activity and donations.

The state director emphasized that the need for education and resources to enlighten the public is more critical this year than ever before.

Participants can register online individually or as a team at namiwalks.org or by using the new free Smartphone app available for download on the website.

Individuals or businesses interested in becoming a sponsor and questions about the ninth annual NAMI Walk should be directed to the Walk Coordinator Gazala Uradnik at 425-985-0208 or gazala@gfsfund.com.

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