Crow Wing County Hosts “Green Walk” To Shed Light On Mental Illness
People passing by Laurel Street in Brainerd may have noticed something unique on Thursday.
“A lot of people are looking to see what in the world is going on. We’ve had a lot of reaction from cars, people waving,” said Sheila Skogen, Crow Wing County Operations Manager.
A group of Crow Wing County employees got together for a “Green Walk” to show their support of mental illness in the community.
“One in four Crow Wing County residents struggle with mental illness. That’s according to our Crow Wing County health survey results. Often, because of the stigma, people wait 10 years before getting or seeking treatment for those symptoms,” explained Kara Griffin, programs manager at the Crow Wing County Community Services.
“We all know somebody or have experienced a form of mental illness ourselves so it’s just bringing awareness to the campaign and making it less of a taboo,” added Amanda Schneeberger, Crow Wing County Land Services employee.
The group of employees walked all the way from the Historic Courthouse to the Laurel Street Bridge and back. This was the last of three green walks that the county had organized in conjunction with the “Make It OK” campaign and Mental Health Awareness Month.
“The entire month of May, the county staff have been raising awareness, providing education, just learning how we can support our community,” Griffin added.
“We’ve really had some great support. People have come out and they’re wearing their green, they’re walking on the walks,” said Skogen.
The “Make It OK” campaign was developed in Crow Wing County by Crow Wing Energized and community partners.
“Throughout the county, we’ve had” Make It OK” presentations as well as other mental health trainings and education throughout the month of May,” explained Griffin.
The county felt it was important to shed light on mental illness and to try to work towards ending the stigma.
“I just think that it’s great that the county is making an effort to bring awareness to mental health and I’m glad to participate. It’s important to me personally to recognize that it’s okay to not always be okay,” Schneeberger said.
“It has affected me on a personal level too with family members and it’s good to talk about it,” added Tammy Wuisniewski, Crow Wing County Land Services employee.
Above all, with the Green Walk, organizers wanted to show that it’s okay to not be okay and that you are not alone.
“Empathy and understanding fuels connections and people need those connections,” added Skogen.
Crow Wing Energized has 200 trained Make It OK ambassadors. Businesses or anyone in the community is welcome to host a Make It OK presentation or info session at their workplace, church, or organization. For more information, visit crowwingenergized.org.