People with a mental illness, their carers and their supporters will step out for the region's first Walk of Pride next week.
The walk, which has been organised by ARAFMI Illawarra, will coincide with World Mental Health Day and is one of a range of activities being held around the nation as part of Mental Health Month.
ARAFMI Illawarra regional manager Kelly Parrish said she hoped the walk would provide inspiration and hope to those involved.
"ARAFMI Hunter started the Walk of Pride in 2005 and it's been an annual event there ever since and the idea has also been taken up in other communities around the country," she said.
"We thought it was about time Wollongong got on board and we have started this year with a short walk. We hope to extend that next year, and make this a really successful annual event here, too.
"The aim is to raise awareness of mental illness, demystify it and assist in breaking down the stigma associated with it."
Wollongong Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbery will lead Thursday's Walk of Pride, which starts at Wollongong Civic Plaza at 10.30am and finishes in Crown Street Mall, where a mental health services expo will be held. "This expo will host up to 30 of the local mental health services in our region who will be showcasing their services to people in the community with a mental illness, their family and friends," Ms Parrish said.
She encouraged people to get involved in the walk, or visit the expo, next week.
"These events are not just targeted to people with a mental illness or their carers - we're hoping to see many people from the community come join us," Ms Parrish said.