The first annual Fairfield County Walks for Mental Health will be held on Saturday, May 6, from 10-11:30 a.m., on the Norwalk Green (parking available on Park Street). Senator Bob Duff opens Mental Health Awareness Month with an official proclamation from Governor Malloy. State and local officials including Senator Toni Boucher and Representatives Cristin McCarthy-Vahey, Chris Perone, Jonathan Steinberg, Fred Wilms, and Terrie Wood will be in attendance. The walk is a one-mile round trip down East Avenue. Participants may check out the Labyrinth, Healing Garden and Hope-Pray-Dream Board at St. Paul\u2019s Church.\u00a0Free admission and complimentary purple bandannas for all. RSVP (preferred) to firstname.lastname@example.org or 203-840-1187. The Walk kicks off a calendar of more than 50 events across the region in honor of Mental Health Awareness Month including movies, presentations, art shows, craft activities, Mental Health First Aid trainings, wellness fairs, and music performances.\u00a0For a full calendar of regional events visit HealthyMindsCT.org. According to Margaret Watt, executive director of the Southwest Regional Mental Health Board (SWRMHB), research on mental health providers in southwest Connecticut conducted by the agency in 2015 and 2016 showed significantly increased caseloads, longer patient wait times to get an appointment with a clinician, the turning away of clients and elimination of programs that serve our region\u2019s most needy. \u201cThe mental health system is bare bones and cannot withstand further budget cuts. Your participation in Fairfield County Walks for Mental Health on May 6 is really needed to show our legislators you care,\u201d Watt said. SWRMHB extends a special thanks to the Walk's planning committee: Advocacy Unlimited, Mid-Fairfield Child Guidance Center, Communities 4 Action, Keystone House, Mid-Fairfield Substance Abuse Coalition, Mid-Fairfield Substance Abuse Coalition, NAMI Southwest, NAMI Fairfield, Positive Directions, Recovery Network of Programs, RIPPLE, and Silver Hill Hospital. The Walk is funded by SWRMHB and NAMI Southwest. The Southwest Regional Mental Health Board (SWRMHB) works to ensure a high-quality behavioral health system by engaging community members, identifying needs, stimulating new initiatives, and advocating for improvements. Their Catchment Area Councils (CACs) provide a venue for all stakeholders \u2014 consumers, family members, providers, and town representatives \u2014 to work together to improve mental health services to the residents of Bridgeport, Darien, Easton, Fairfield, Greenwich, Monroe, New Canaan, Norwalk, Stamford, Stratford, Trumbull, Weston, Westport, and Wilton.