Minot non-profit combats the stigma attached to mental health and suicide

Good Day Dakota

On average, one person died of suicide every 60 hours in the state last year, that’s according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

The stigma attached to mental health is one of the main reasons Open Mind was created. Two Minot men lost their brother to suicide in 2010 and they had to do something about it.

Ryan Randall, president and co-Founder of Open Mind says, “We were the three amigos growing up. He was the mind leader. He was the patriarch of our family. We looked up to him. we put him on a pedestal. and he really guided us through our lives.”

Lee Randall was only 30-years-old when he died. His brothers Ryan and Brady didn’t talk about it for years, but when they finally did, they felt free.

Ryan says, “It became therapeutic for me. I loved the feeling that it gave me because as soon as I brought it up someone goes, oh I’ve lost a cousin, or I’ve lost a friend, or I’ve lost my father. But no one ever talks about it. I’m getting chills just talking about it right now because it is one of those things. Its a shared experience that we all have yet it’s something that our society for whatever reason has a stigma against speaking about it.”

Since there are so many layers to mental health, Ryan says it made sense to start with early prevention teaching children how to manage their emotions. That’s where mindfulness education comes into play.

Heidi Woods, a Mindfulness educator from Bismarck says, “They reached out to me knowing I was involved in mindfulness here in Bismarck and just said would you come to Leewok, lead some kids yoga classes, maybe guide us in a couple of meditations.”

Heidi has been working for the non-profit for three years now. Along with their biggest fundraiser, Leewok music festival, Open Mind has collaborated with Heidi to create resources. And now she travels the state stopping at schools to help raise awareness about mental health and this year because of COVID-19, the organization moved to digital content.

Ryan says, “We made that move to be more available online and we’re developing digital material so we have mental health resources for parents and one for educators that you can download right on your phone.”

He says getting mindful resources in the hands of those who take care of children is impactful since young people are the future.

For information on all the resources Open Mind has to offer, click here.

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