ST. CLOUD - Around 100 people walked, celebrated and raised awareness for mental health in St. Cloud Saturday.

The 2017 Mental Health Walk was put on by NAMI-St. Cloud Area.

NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, is the largest grassroots organization for people with mental health issues and their families.

Louise Echola is the Vice President of NAMI-St. Cloud Area. Echola is someone who's life was closely touched but the effects of mental illness. She took the experiences of her life and devoted them to helping other people who struggle with mental health.

Mental illness still has a negative stigma for many people, but groups like NAMI and events like the Health Walk help remove the stigma.

Echola says they are seeing the effects of raising awareness to mental illness and trying to remove the stigma.

"The more that we do the more that we are open about mental illnesses the easier it is for people to reach out and seek treatment."

NAMI and Echola go far and beyond hosting events like the health walk. Echola in fact has a phone on her that those in need can call 24/7. They also hold educational meetings that are open to everyone and hosted a free movie at Marcus Parkwood Cinema this past week.

Louise says everyone who works with NAMI-St. Cloud is passionate about helping those in need.

"A lot of the volunteers who are with us today are family members or board members if NAMI. They are so dedicated to helping support people who are living with mental illnesses and their loved ones."

If you would like to find ways to donate to NAMI - St. Cloud Area or are looking for a way to get into contact with Echola or NAMI follow the link below.


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