August 22, 2018 07:02 PM
The Minnesota State Fair kicks off Thursday, and this year's edition features a wide range of new attractions.
That includes the fair's first Mental Health Awareness Day. State Fair officials said it will take place at Dan Patch Park on Monday.
"I'm sure people think the Minnesota State Fair is all fun and attractions and food, which it is," fair spokesperson Danielle Dullinger said. "But it's also a forum and an exchange of ideas."
Dullinger said the fair was approached last winter by a member of the state committee on mental health interested in dedicating an entire day to mental health awareness.
"We thought they had an excellent proposal," Dullinger said. "And it's obviously very prevalent, and we're totally willing to help take that stigma away and really share that it's not about mental illness - it's about mental wellness."
"I have to admit, I was a little surprised," said Sue Abderholden, executive director of NAMI Minnesota, the National Alliance on Mental Illness.
Abderholden said 1 in 5 adults will experience mental illness in a given year. The group has had a booth at the fair for the last decade.
"The first summer we were there, people didn't really come up to our booth frankly," Abderholden said. "It's been a great experience, but this is even more exciting."
About 40 booths will be set up Monday featuring yoga, meditation, music and other strategies and resources to cope with different stresses life hands our way.
"Some people might say that's going to be a really depressing part of the fair, but it's not," Abderholden said.
"It is being talked about more," Dullinger added. "We want to help each other out."
Abderholden hopes fairgoers take advantage of this learning opportunity because everyone has to take care of their mental health.
"People are under a lot of stress at work and at home, so frankly they need some strategies to address that so it doesn't turn into something else," Abderholden said.
State Fair officials said if this year's Mental Health Awareness Day is well-attended, it could return in the years to come.
Updated: August 22, 2018 07:02 PM
Created: August 22, 2018 03:52 PM
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