Hundreds join ‘Stomp Out Stigma’ walk for mental health awareness

Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Hundreds of people pounded the pavement Saturday morning in downtown Grand Rapids to raise awareness about mental health.

The Mental Health Foundation of West Michigan hosted its 18th annual ‘Stomp Out Stigma’ walk. 

A teen from East Grand Rapids shared his story in hopes of making a difference for others.

“I’m trying to push myself and make steps towards where I want to be, and that’s why I think I’m a perfect example, is because I am not perfect,” said Nicolas Reuben.

When you take a look at Reuben, you see a confident 18-year-old working to create change, but the teen says this wasn’t always the case.

“One by one, I stopped going out as much and stopped playing soccer and doing all these things that I used to really enjoy. It took a couple years down the line in like the second half of my freshman year of high school I’m like okay, I think I actually might be depressed,” said Reuben.

Reuben checked in to a mental health clinic in February 2020 and spent 3 days there.

“I ended up making some friends and I’m like, there are more people than I thought who have the same issues as me and think the same way,” said Reuben.

He’s now in consistent therapy and wants to encourage others to get help if they need it.

“You have to do it for yourself, but you don’t have to do it by yourself,” said Reuben.

“I’m encouraging people to have open conversations with each other and don’t be afraid to talk about mental health. We are walking to create awareness surrounding mental health disorders, increase awareness, and decrease the stigma,” said Christy Buck, the executive director of the Mental Health Foundation of West Michigan.

Reuben says he hopes sharing his story will help other people in the future.

“I feel like I can freely talk about it, so I’m a great example of being able to come out and share my story and tell everybody that they’re not alone,” said Reuben.

More information about the Mental Health Foundation of West Michigan can be found on benice.org.

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