'Bash4Guild' Aims to Smash the Stigma of Mental Illness

Updated: 04/22/2014 10:50 AM
Created: 04/19/2014 11:38 AM
By: Jennie Olson

For youth struggling with mental illnesses, transitioning from adolescence to adulthood can be a daunting task, especially for those who may not have a solid support system around them.

A new division of a Twin-Cities organization was launched in the beginning of this year to address that problem.

Equilibrium is the new youth services division of Guild Incorporated and works exclusively in the Twin Cities. The organization helps local youth ages 16-20 who may struggle with everyday needs, relationships, employment and education. According to the organization, many of the people served have histories of hospitalization, psychiatric care, substance abuse, medical conditions and social health issues.

Board member Nik Larsen became involved with Guild about four years ago when he joined their team, saying he was looking for a way to make a difference in his own community. He says adults with severe mental illness are among the most underserved people in need and that he saw involvement with Guild as a way to make a profound difference.

Since launching in the beginning of 2014, the youth division is serving about 50 people in the Minneapolis area. Supporters are now coming together to host a Bash4Guild benefit this spring to help raise money and awareness for both Guild and the youth services division.

“Guild is just launching a new line of services for youths, so it was the perfect amalgamation,” Larsen said about the event.

Co-organizer Matt Bollero said he had been looking for a way to get involved in the community since moving to Minnesota and said the launch of Equilibrium was a perfect time for him to jump in.

“They are directly impacting those in our neighborhoods,” Bollero said, adding that he hopes to get other young adults involved. “Just because we are young professionals doesn’t mean we have to wait until later in life to give back.”

“There is so much passion with younger people,” Larsen added. “If that positive energy can be focused and leveraged, the benefits to organizations such as Guild can be titanic.”

Bash4Guild has been met with tremendous support from the community, including local businesses and sports teams. Silent auction items include a Minnesota Wild hockey stick signed by the entire team, golf at The Minikahda Club, sporting event tickets and more. Each ticket purchased also comes with two tickets to a Timberwolves game next season.

“The outreach of support is endless,” Bollero said. “From the Timberwolves to the Wild, to donations from people, local businesses – the support has been awesome. Bash4Guild is a good way to have fun, dance and meet young professionals in the town, all while raising awareness and money for an extremely good cause. This event will show what everyone can do when we all work together.”

The evening includes food, drinks, wine tasting, a silent auction, dance lessons and even a DJ competition.

“We wanted to really engage and hold the attention of our audience,” Larsen said. “We plan on growing this event in the future and want to make everything memorable.”

Besides raising money, the benefit aims to raise awareness about mental illness and the stigma that often surrounds it. According to the organization, mental illness affects one in 17 adults and one in 10 children.

“In any charity, there are donors, doers and door openers,” Larsen said. “If you are not capable of being a donor but this message still resonates with you, we still desperately need you. Spread the word; talk about how mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of, and let’s smash the stigma.”

The event takes place from 8 p.m. to midnight Saturday, May 3, at the Minneapolis Club, located at 729 2nd Ave. S. Tickets are available at

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