Hundreds March on Washington in First Ever Destination Dignity March
On Monday, hundreds gathered on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. calling for dignity, rights and support for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness and addictions. The inaugural Destination Dignity March focused on raising public awareness of these illnesses and the systematic discrimination individuals living with these disorders face in the public health and criminal justice systems. The march was organization by a coalition of mental health and addiction advocacy organizations, including the National Council.
With a kick-off rally on the National Mall, dozens of speakers delivered impassioned addresses on their experiences with mental illness, their work to help those in need, and their dreams for a health care system that identifies and treats mental illness the same as it does physical ailments. At the rally, the National Council’s Cheryl Sharp, recent recipient of the 2015 SAMHSA Voice Award, gave a rousing address demanding change and equality.
“Many of us have been condemned, disparaged and ostracized from our communities. The media portrays us as dangerous, as a drain on society, as people with no worth,” said Sharp. “I say, NOT SO. My neighbors do not see a diagnosis; they do not see a malingerer or a person to be fearful of. What they see is a wife, a mother, gardener, a dog lover, a hard worker and a very good neighbor.”