It seems like there’s an awareness walk for everything these days — but I’m of the opinion that they’re a good thing.
I’ve heard people complain, and I definitely understand some of the criticisms. When a walk raises awareness but nothing else, or raises money for an organization with questionable practices, those criticisms are certainly valid.
But let’s be real here. Awareness, especially in the realm of stigmatized mental illnesses, is rarely a bad thing.
That’s true of OCD for sure. Those of us with OCD run into tons of people who think the illness is nothing more than a desire for neatness. Anything that can help people understand that compulsions go far beyond just liking things neat, and what obsessions are and how they work, helps all of us.
That’s why the International OCD Foundation’s 1 Million Steps for OCD Walk is important. The walk, founded in 2013, will be held in four cities around the U.S. this year, to raise awareness as well as funds for IOCDF chapters that provide support for people with OCD and education to those without it.
The walk was inspired by Denis Asselin, who walked more than 500 miles in honor of his son Nathaniel, who committed suicide after a long struggle with severe OCD and body dysmorphic disorder.
The walk will be held on June 4 in Oakland, Boston, Atlanta and Houston. I won’t be able to go, but I hope those of you who can will consider it, or at least spread the word!
And for those who can’t go, you can also start a virtual walk in your own community or join one nearby, if you want to.
But don’t feel bad if you have to miss out on this year’s walk. There’s always next year, and there are other ways to raise awareness, too.