Courtesy of Mental Wellness Center

Courtesy of Mental Wellness Center

The Mental Wellness Center in collaboration with UCSB Active Minds will put on the center’s fifth annual 5k Sunset Beach Walk for Mental Wellness on Friday. The event starts at 5 p.m. Friday at the East Beach Bathhouse, 1118 E. Cabrillo Blvd. in Santa Barbara. After the walk, the center will be hosting a party with food and live music.

The general registration fee of $50, or a student rate of $20, includes dinner provided by East Beach Grill, a T-shirt, live music and a sunset walk with other Santa Barbara residents. UCSB Active Minds is offering free bus transportation for UCSB students and local residents.

The Mental Wellness Center is a local nonprofit that provides support and services to residents coping with mental illness. The center’s fundraiser, with a goal of $75,000, aims to educate residents about programs available to the mentally ill. The center will then use the funds for education programs and direct services to clients who are learning self-care skills.

“From the minute I get there until I go home, I have fun,” Annmarie Cameron, CEO of the Mental Wellness Center, said. She said the ocean-side event will provide a chance to de-stress after a long week. “It’s a really joyous event, and we hope to have a lot of young people too.”

For the third year in a row, the center is partnering with UCSB Active Minds, a chapter of a national organization dedicated to eliminating the stigma surrounding mental illness and mental health disorders by acting as liaisons between students and local mental health resources.

Melissa Boomer, fourth-year psychology major and co-president of Active Minds, said one in four students has a mental illness in any given year, so “it’s something worth talking about.”

Cameron said the two groups share common goals of facilitating conversation about mental illness. UCSB Active Minds provides the “voice and energy of the young age group.”

“Their message is so in sync with ours that we wanted to work together,” Cameron said.

Boomer said the 5k walk is her favorite event of the year.

“The energy is just so positive, with so many like-minded people coming together for something that they’re passionate about,” Boomer said. “That feeling of unity and community is really special and it doesn’t happen very often.”

Still, the groups continue to aim to “bring issues about mental health out of the shadows and into the light,” according to Boomer. Melissa said starting conversations with events such as these is “the first step to getting help, and that kind of message saves lives. That’s always the goal.”

A version of this story appeared on p. 4 of the Thursday, May 5, 2016 print edition of the Daily Nexus.