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May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and two advocates stopped in to chat about awareness in Casper and Wyoming.

Teresa Gutwein is a board member for NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) Casper and Dan O’Dell is the director of Iris Clubhouse, which since 2017 has provided a working community for adults with mental illness in Casper.

What are some of

the activities taking place this month?

DO: Monday, May 6, there is an art show from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. called “A Journey in My Shoes,” at Central Wyoming Counseling Center, 1430 Wilkins Circle. Some of the clubhouse members and NAMI members will be displaying their artwork there.

And there is a movement called #letschalkaboutmentalhealth. We will be inviting businesses to write the hashtags on their sidewalks to raise awareness.

And your big, fun fundraiser is coming up?

DO: The third annual Be Kind to Your Mind 5 and 10k and obstacle course for kids is June 8 at Edness Kimball Wilkins State Park. The 10k starts at 7 am., the 5k at 8 a.m. and the Fun Run at 9:30 a.m. We had 115 participants last year and we’re shooting for 150 this year. You can sign up at runsignup.com or call us at 333-2507. We’re also still looking for corporate sponsors from $250 up to $1,500. All the proceeds benefit Iris Clubhouse. We’re bursting at the seams. Right now, we are only open three days a week and we could be open more days and at more locations if there was more funding.

How can folks help NAMI Casper?

TG: We do need volunteers to help man the phones. We will provide training and then they take calls from family members and individuals who are needing support. Mostly, it’s just sharing information and listening. People interested can call 888-882-4963, 265-2573 or 462-1520, or email amandanamiwyoming@gmail.com.

A lot of individuals don’t know we’re there. NAMI is a grassroots group established in 1979 to provide advocacy to families and individuals with mental illness. Today, there are over 1,000 NAMI chapters in all 50 states.

You’d like to see

more funding from

the federal and state levels too, right?

TG: President Truman’s National Mental Health Act of 1946 brought about discoveries for new ways to provide treatment and medications for the mentally ill.

President Truman believed you need to fund and provide support for community services for the mentally ill to build a stable country. Mental health is essential to the well-being of our communities, yet funding for community mental health is not at the top of the list when there are financial shortages with the federal government. Isn’t it about time to fund peer support and families advocacy in supportive environments for mental health?

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Follow community news editor Sally Ann Shurmur on Twitter @WYOSAS

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Community News Editor

Sally Ann Shurmur arrived at the Star-Tribune to cover sports two weeks after graduating from the University of Wyoming and now serves as community news editor. She was raised in Laramie and is a passionate fan of Cowboys football, food and family.

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