YOU DON'T HAVE TO WALK ALONE.
I knew that two things would come out of this: that I would survive and that I would create something beautiful that would help others survive.
Accessing mental health services can feel overwhelming - even for someone who isn't currently going through something difficult. Mental illness often paralyzes and limits one's ability to effectively advocate for one's self. Remembering her own journey with PTSD, founder and executive director Shireen Sakizadeh McConnell created MN Mental Health Advocates to fill that advocate role. "I felt so broken and wasn't able to function as a nurse, a wife, a mother" she recalled, noting that "I reached a place where I felt too broken to carry on and after failing to access the care that I needed, I began making plans to end my life." Fortunately, McConnell had a safety net of family and friends who recognized that she was suffering. They were able to identify the mental health services that were available to her through her health insurance and employee assistance programs and walked her through the journey to healing. McConnell explained, "after gaining some distance
from that heartbreaking period of life and coming out the other side as a survivor, I realized that not everyone has the luxury of a safety net. I needed to create that resource for others because everyone deserves nothing short of the opportunity of a good outcome. I knew that two things would come out of this: that I would survive and that I would create something beautiful that would help others survive." In March 2019, McConnell received approval from the state of Minnesota to move forward with MN Mental Health Advocates. She created the nonprofit as a tribute to her own journey and as means of walking alongside others in their own journey - because no one should have to walk alone.