Runners in the Stand Up to Stigma 5K get ready to start their race.

“Stand Up to Stigma,” a 5K run/walk sponsored by the Loma Linda University Health Behavioral Medicine Center in Redlands, drew more than 400 runners and walkers of all ages on Sunday, May 21. By participating in this first-time event, runners demonstrated their support for mental health services. 

“We want to raise awareness of issues surrounding mental health,” said Edward Field, MBA, administrator of the Behavioral Medicine Center. “We have found there is a lot of stigma surrounding mental health, so people are nervous to talk about it.

“Many find it’s easier to talk about heart disease or cancer,” Field said. “The disease of mental illness is no different. It’s all part of health care.”

Loma Linda University Health’s Behavioral Medicine Center has provided a full spectrum of mental health services for more than 25 years.

The center’s services and programs cover issues such as addictions, anxiety, or depression, for all ages, ranging from children to senior adults. It offers free assessments to anyone who needs help.

May is National Mental Health Month, a time when events like the 5K help spread the word that mental health is something everyone should care about. According to statistics from the National Institute of Mental Health, one in five adults experience a mental illness at some point in their lifetime. More than 16 million American adults live with major depression.

Race entry fees and sponsorships supported the future construction of playground facilities for the Behavioral Medicine Center’s youth patients.