Published: Sep. 21, 2022 at 4:38 PM CDT|Updated: 14 hours ago

WAKEFIELD, Mich. (WLUC) – Around 100 people attended the 10th Annual Walk-a-Mile in My Shoes event Wednesday at the Wakefield VFW.

Gogebic Community Mental Health hosted the event. Local first responders and mental health workers spoke to the crowd.

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Wakefield-Marinesco Senior Katelyn Gustafson says it is important to raise awareness about mental health.

“Mental health is very important with all age groups, but it is common to have issues with the teenage demographic especially with COVID recently,” Gustafson said. “Spreading awareness will help solve the problem.”

Walk organizers say its goal is to stomp out the stigma surrounding mental health resources.

“We don’t want to have people feel like their diagnoses define them,” Gogebic Community Mental Health Community Services Support Coordinator Dustin Pitrone said. “We want the public to recognize them as a whole person.”

Pitrone says the theme for this year’s walk is recognizing first responders’ roles in helping with mental health.

“Today our theme is honoring the collaboration we have with first responders,” Pitrone said. “That’s law enforcement, firefighters, and emergency services like ambulances and ER because a lot of times they are the first ones on the scene for someone who is struggling with a mental health crisis.”

Gustafson has one message for students her age who are struggling.

Walk-a-Mile Rally

“My one message to people in my age group regarding mental health would be don’t be afraid to ask for help,” Gustafson said.

If you or a loved one are struggling with mental health and need help call the National Suicide Prevention hotline at 988.