Mrs. New Hampshire Joins in Walk for Mental Health Awareness
Concord, N.H. – Crystal Andres, Mrs. New Hampshire International 2020 and mental health advocate, of Concord, had the opportunity to take part in the second National Day of Hope Saturday as part of NAMIWalks. NAMIWalks participants support the National Alliance on Mental Illness’s (NAMI) mission and celebrate mental health for all during this demanding year of challenges and changes.
Andres has been working and advocating for mental health awareness for six years after receiving her Masters Degree in mental health counseling. She currently works as a clinician at the Independent Services Network, providing services to children in foster care.
As the current Mrs. New Hampshire International, she has coordinated with NAMI-NH and The NH chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention to raise awareness in the state and the show the impact it has on local communities.
“My goal is to educate others, especially in these uncertain times when social distancing has been reported to have an increase in mental health hotline calls,” Andres said. “Destigmatizing mental health treatment has become a conversation due to COVID-19, but we still have a long way to go to ensure everyone has the resources and care they need.”
Every year, NAMIWalks NH brings thousands of Granite Staters together for the state’s single largest mental health awareness and suicide prevention event. Due to COVID-19, participants were able to take part in “walk your way” as a virtual event. For some, that meant walking around the block, doing laps around the backyard, or on the treadmill, all while taking the most careful precautions and staying appropriately physically distanced. Other participants went for a run, a bike ride, a hike or a swim - all while fundraising for NAMI New Hampshire and sharing activities on social media to raise awareness and show a united effort.
“Hopefully, next year we can do this all together as a team, but I’m proud of the work we did virtually this year," she said.
Andres is also a supporter of the LGBTQ+ community, highlighting the importance of different groups that often go unnoticed when discussing the need for care and help.
“I want to remind people about how many topics fall under the mental health umbrella, such as substance abuse, suicide prevention, child abuse, domestic violence, veteran care and more,” she said. “It affects everyone whether we realize it or not. It’s my mission to continue to spread awareness in order to fight the stigma and get people the help they need.”
She will also be walking in the local Christmas parade in November and is available to attend local events until the end of her reign on Dec. 31.