September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month.

Crow Wing Energized has worked continuously with community members, schools, and businesses to develop and implement an overarching suicide prevention plan. In the United States, 1 in 5 adults experience a mental illness in any given year. If we compared this to Crow Wing County, the ratio is closer to 1 in 4 adults.

Mental illnesses are very common in today’s world, and they are treatable. However, many people delay getting the help they need, up to 10 years, because of the negative stigma attached to mental illnesses; they don’t want to be perceived as ‘crazy’ or ‘psycho’ by their peers.

A mental illness can be defined as “a medical condition disrupting a person’s thinking, feeling, mood, ability to relate to others, and daily functioning.” Common conditions include anxiety disorders, attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, bipolar disorder, depression, eating disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder, postpartum depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and schizophrenia. Mental illness can be treated effectively with medication, therapy, diet, exercise, and other support.

RELATED: Make It OK presentation aims to reduce mental health stigma

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What is stigma? Stigma is a set of negative and often unfair beliefs that a society has about something. The stigma of mental illness has been around for a long time. For years, mental illness has been seen by society as a sign of weakness; however, over the last half century, there have been more discoveries on how the brain works, yet the stigma remains. Because of this, many people who have a mental illness feel ashamed and try to hide it.

RELATED: Virtual Move it for Mental health set

This can only exacerbate symptoms and lead to more isolation and disconnectedness. Together, as a community, we want to begin to Make It OK to talk about mental illness, connect those in need to the right resources, and offer support where we can. Crow Wing Energized has trained more than 200 people to become Make It OK mental health stigma reduction ambassadors. The ambassadors have presented the Make It OK message to over 1,300 Essentia Health employees and more than 400 Crow Wing County employees.

Crow Wing Energized has scheduled a free virtual Make It OK presentation noon to 1 p.m. Friday, Sept. 25. To register, go to:

What is something we can do right now to stop the stigma of mental illness? Communication is one of the most important components when it comes to reducing mental health stigma. Do not be afraid of being open to having a discussion with someone who may be struggling.

Al Gawboy
Al GawboySubmitted photo

Do say

“Thanks for opening up to me.”

“Is there anything I can do to help?”

“How can I help?”

“Thanks for sharing.”

“I’m sorry to hear that. It must be tough.”

“I’m here for you when you need me.”

“I can’t imagine what you’re going through.”

“People do get better.”

“Oh man, that sucks.”

“Can I drive you to an appointment?”

“How are you feeling today?”

“I love you.”

Don’t say

“It could be worse.”

“Just deal with it.”

“Snap out of it.”

“Everyone feels that way sometimes.”

“You may have brought this on yourself.”

“We’ve all been there.”

“You’ve got to pull yourself together.”

“Maybe try thinking happier thoughts.”


If you or a loved one is considering suicide, know that 24/7 confidential help is always here.

They will listen non-judgmentally and get you help.

  • Suicide Prevention Hotline – 1-800-273-8255.

(En Español – 1-888-628-9454).

  • The Trevor Project (LGBTQ Crisis and Suicide Hotline) – 866-488-7386.

  • Veterans Crisis Line – 1-800-273-8255, press 1.

  • Teen Crisis Line – 310-855-4673.

  • Hopeline Text Service – Text “MN” or “HopeLine” to 741741.

  • Farm Aid Support Line: 800-FARM-AID (327-6243).

  • Crisis Line: 800-462-5525 or 218-828-4357.

Ongoing support is also available through NAMI MINNESOTA at