There is a lot of mystery that surrounds mental illness. A group of four graduate students set out to tackle the stigma of mental illness in Winona County. While looking at resources available, we came across the National Alliance of Mental Health (NAMI) and Winona Occupational Rehabilitation Center (ORC). These two organizations provide training, information, and helpful resources for people who live with a mental illness. In our journey to volunteer and participate in events to raise awareness in our area we were able to experience the NAMI Color Dash and the ORC Starlight Stroll.

What we learned from these experiences is that there is an abundance of unknown resources for people who are struggling with finding help for mental health concerns. Both organizations pride themselves on being people focused and knowledgeable about ways to help the community in any part of their mental health journey. As counselors in training, we felt fortunate to be able to advocate for persons who cannot always advocate for themselves. It gave us a new perspective on how mental health is viewed and, our hope is that in the future more resources will be easily accessible to students besides the resources offered at Winona State.

-Hanna Niccum, Emily Norton, Therese Odden, Kelsey Plese