By CHARITY SMITH
WAKEFIELD — Gogebic County Community Mental Health will aim to end the stig- ma associated with mental health issues as it hosts the ninth annual Walk a Mile in My Shoes rally on Sept. 15 at the Wakefield VFW Post 9084.
“They main goal is to raise awareness (for mental health)” said Angel Robles, GCCMH quality improvement coordinator and community liason.
Robles said they want to educate the public and legislators as to why mental health matters, end stigma related to mental illness and intellectual/developmental disabilities, and educate people as to why equal coverage on both mental and physical health coverage is needed in Michigan.
The event is free, but participants are required to sign up. Registration opens at 10 a.m. and the program will begin at 10:30 a.m. The event includes a program with guest speakers and a short walk along Lakeshore Drive, followed by a light lunch.
“We’ll have people from the community, as well as people hopefully from the group homes, that will be speaking about their mental health and why it matters,” said Robles.
The event, which is held annually statewide, usually takes place in the spring said Robles. However they are holding it in the fall this year as a result of COVID restrictions last spring.
“Some of the group homes and different people dress up… There will be people in costumes,” said
Robles. “This year’s theme is going to be rainbows and bumblebees.”
She said the rainbows are to represent LGBTQ+ pride and the bumblebees are the symbol for the Be Kind People Project. The project teaches students how to be kind to each other.
Robles said they are hoping to raise awareness that bullying of LGBTQ+ is an issue in not only in this community, but in every
community. She said there is a lot of bullying because of a lack of understanding, that directly impacts the mental health of people in the LGBTQ+ community.
“People get bullied for many reasons, but that can be a very big factor for bullying,” she said. “Be Kind is like an anti-bullying pro- gram in the school systems. It teaches people to be kind to everyone and it’s super important.”