Events scheduled to combat mental illness stigma

Make it OK events seek to improve communication

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BRAINERD — The stigma of mental illnesses, including substance use disorder, continues to be a key factor that keeps people from talking openly and seeking the care, support and treatment they deserve.

Peter VanDusartz, director of behavioral health–St. Croix Valley at Health Partners, will lead two different presentations Thursday, April 27, in Brainerd.

  • 1-3 p.m.: In-person ambassador training in the Thabes Room at Essentia Health-St. Joseph’s Medical Center. Use the main entrance, take the elevators to the basement and go through the cafeteria.

A Make it OK ambassador is someone who has a passion for reducing mental illness stigma in their community. An ambassador does not need to be an expert on mental illnesses, just someone who recognizes the need for increased understanding and creating caring conversations about mental illnesses through connecting, engaging and sharing the Make It OK message with others.

After this training, ambassadors will be equipped to do presentations in their community. The training is free but registration is required at


  • 5:30-7 p.m.: In-person presentation titled Make It OK to Talk About Mental Illnesses and Substance Use Disorders in the lower level of the Crow Wing County Land Services Building. 

Participants will better understand the impact of stigma on mental illnesses specifically related to substance use disorders and addiction, and how it interferes with recovery. They will hear about resources and treatments to help people get the care and support they deserve.

The presentation is free but registration is required at

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