JOHNSTON, Iowa -- Mental illness are on the rise but access to care keeps shrinking. Nearly one in five Iowans struggle with some form of mental illness but advocates say they desperately working to end the stigma to give more care for those in need.
More than 500 people gathered at Terra Park in Johnston to support those who struggle with mental illness at the National Alliance for Mental Illness walk. For many in the crowd it was personal. Theresa Goedicke walked for her son who has struggled with mental illness for years.
"I want to do everything I can," she says. "It happens in every family and we are all touched by similar things."
For others, they supported those in their community.
"African - Americans are 20 -percent more likely then the general population to go undiagnosed with mental health disorders," says Jacquie Easley McGhee. "There are so many types of mental illnesses that go undiagnoised because people don’t know that they can get help."
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness , 600,000 Iowans live with some from of mental illness daily. Of those, the organization says 37,000 are dealing with a more serious form.
"It takes all of us who have been affected by mental illness to talk about it," says NAMI Iowa executive director Peggy Huppert.
Huppert says Iowa is behind the mark when it comes to caring for the critically mentally ill.
"What we found was a real backlog and hospital rooms are full and people are ending up in prison or homeless.," she says." We need to do a better job of making sure services are available throughout the state not just a few counties. There are lot of counties that have very little."