For Rebecca and Chad Pittillo, the mission to improve access to mental health and end the stigma is deeply personal.
They lost their son, Isaac, to suicide last October. Isaac was a student at White Hall High School and helped lead the youth praise band. From the outside looking in, Isaac was a thriving teenager, surrounded by friends and family. He seemed really good, but anxiety and depression are not always easily seen. Rebecca is dedicated to helping others get past the stigma of mental health disorders so they can get help and start healing.
“We talked about everything in our home…everything other than mental illness,” Rebecca said. “Isaac seemed so happy that we never dreamed he was struggling with any type of behavioral health issues. We didn’t have the warning signs you read about, and to this day, we still don’t know of any problems he shared with anyone.”
NAMI is the National Alliance on Mental Illness, the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness. This past July, the Blue & You Foundation for a Healthier Arkansas committed $5.29 million in support of NAMI Arkansas and five other Arkansas-based partners and leaders to expand behavioral health resources across our state. Arkansas and the rest of the U.S. have been experiencing a behavioral health crisis for quite some time. Our state’s rates of depression and anxiety among adults leads the national average.
This Saturday, Rebecca, executive director of the Blue & You Foundation for a Healthier Arkansas, will walk in memory of her son, Isaac, as she and others come together for NAMIWalks Your Way: A United Day of Hope, to support mental health for all. You can join the White Hall Walks for Isaac Team, or donate, here.
“Although the circumstances surrounding our tragedy are extremely rare, suicide among teens is the second leading cause of death in our state and that is why NAMI and the work that they are doing to normalize the conversation and end the stigma associated with mental illness is so extremely important. I want to live in a world where parents are no longer experiencing the horrific pain that Chad and I are going through learning to live without Isaac. Mental health matters, so let’s talk about it.”