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88Nine Radio Milwaukee

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Local group eliminating mental illness stigma

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A coalition of local mental health organizations is working to change society's perception of mental illness.

The Wisconsin Initiative for Stigma Elimination -- or WISE -- is reaching out to the local community with a series of groundbreaking videos, raising awareness about mental health.

In the online videos, dozens of people from the Milwaukee area speak directly into the camera, sharing their experiences about recovering from mental illnesses and the life changes they made to get better.  

The first-person testimonials are, at times, difficult to watch, but organizers say that's the point.  The hope is people will see the videos and be inspired to get the help they need, said director Sue McKenzie.

"If people are saying, 'Wow, maybe it is me,' the first step I would say is to find someone safe to talk to. There are so many people experiencing what you're experiencing," McKenzie said.

The videos are a starting point for people to get in touch with a mental health professional, she added.  You can view them by following this link and clicking the "video library" tile in the upper right corner.

For more about the program, click the podcast player above.  And view the videos featured in our audio story below.