ST. CLOUD -- A local organization has been formed to raise awareness and eliminate the stigma of mental illness.

Mark Van Herr, Executive Director of The Beautiful Mind Project in St. Cloud, says he founded the nonprofit group about five months ago. Van Herr says 1 in 4 people in the United States have a mental illness -- and 60 percent do not receive the treatment they need.

"If this were the flu, I promise you it'd be all over the news," Van Herr says. "But it's not, it's mental illness and we tend to push those aside and that needs to change."

Van Herr, who was diagnosed with bipolar disorder 11 years ago, says getting checked out and seeking treatment for mental illness is critical.

"One of the reasons why people don't get help is because they don't realize they need it," Van Herr says. "We need to get people to think of their mental health like they do their physical health."

The Beautiful Mind Project is holding their first annual fundraising event, Stand Up to Stigma, next Saturday at the Red Carpet in downtown St. Cloud. The event will feature live music, cocktails, hors d'oeuvres from 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. and a silent auction and comedy show featuring comedian Scott Hanson starting at 8:00 p.m. You can order your tickets on their website.