Atlanta woman walks cross country for mental health awareness

Published: Mar. 31, 2022 at 6:51 PM EDT
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ATLANTA, Ga. (CBS46) - Mental health advocate Stacy Bryant is on a mission to change the world one small step at a time.

Bryant is walking across the United States to raise awareness for the understanding mental health crises.

“Mental health needs to be the first thing on people’s minds,” explained Bryant. “Pay attention to your mental health.”

The Atlanta mother of five is a U.S. Army veteran, pageant queen, and cancer survivor. She carries a sign reading “Honk for Healthy Mental Health” as she walks through the Atlanta metro.

Her passion for mental health comes after a personal battle. When Bryant retired from military service 20 years ago, she was diagnosed with PTSD and manic depression.

“Don’t give up. Don’t be afraid to seek help. It’s not the end just because you’re in a crisis,” said Bryant.

Bryant initially planned to carry her message coast to coast, before realizing her health complications would get in the way. Determined to make an impact, she decided to make the journey one state at a time.

She’s starting with her home state, Georgia. Bryant typically walks nine to ten hours in a row – at one point racking up 42 miles in one day. Her route across the state will total roughly 300 miles.

“I’m a veteran. I’m used to rucking 20 miles with stuff on my back,” she said.

Each day brings new obstacles. Bryant said, in a way, her journey across the state parallels her journey with mental health.

“You get real tired, you get thirsty but that’s part of mental heath as well. You gotta understand it’s mind over matter,” she explained.

However, Bryant starts every day with a ritual. She meditates before writing down a message about mental health on a poster board. She also checks in with family and friends before taking off along interstates, suburbs, and inner-city streets.

“I’m keying in on everyone,” she explained. “Everybody needs to be aware and conscious of their mental health.”

After Bryant completes her journey across Georgia, she said she will take a short break before tackling South Carolina.

While her movements are mindful, her final destination is unknown.

“What’s my next step for how I’m gonna help someone else - that’s really what I’ve been thinking about,” said Bryant.

Stacy is also raising money through this GoFundMe to open a wellness studio after her journey.

NOTE: CBS46 does not vet any GoFundMe pages or promises the money will be used for the stated reasons. Donate at your own risk.