A New Jersey mom completed an 80-mile journey on foot while towing a casket behind her to raise awareness of mental health care.
48-year-old Greta Schwartz began her hike in her hometown of Seaville on Monday with the goal of reaching Trenton's state capitol on Wednesday. Calling for a change in the way Americans perceive mental illnesses, she printed the word "revolution" on the casket and dressed like a Spartan to symbolize the battle that some mental health patients experience.
She is also raising money for mental health care nonprofits via a GoFundMe campaign. As of June 1, she has raised over $5,500 of her $10,000 goal.
"The public response has been overwhelming," Schwartz wrote to A Plus. "So many people have lost loved ones to suicide or addiction. Most kept it all secret. So much stigma and shame. Most people have no idea how many have had this heartbreak."
According to the Associated Press, Schwartz had a personal connection with about 70 people with a mental illness who died by suicide. Some of their names are printed on the casket as a reminder of the hardships of living with mental health disorders.
"A lot of families are afraid to reach out to others for help," she told the Press of Atlantic City. "And even those who do get shunned a lot of the time."
The National Alliance on Mental Health says that 1 in 5 adults in the U.S. experience a mental illness every year. However, less than half of these individuals receive care, primarily due to the social stigma of having a mental illness. The lack of treatment can be detrimental to both the individuals themselves and their families.
In a Facebook video posted Wednesday, Schwartz announced that she had arrived in Trenton with her casket.
"Hopefully, something good will come out of this," she said in the video.