At nearly nine-months pregnant, I recently made the 8-hour trip to Minneapolis/St. Paul to stand before an amazing group of people and nervously stammer out a Thank You speech. NAMI Minnesota (National Alliance on Mental Illness) chose my series on mental health in rural America written earlier this year for its Media Award.
Cliche aside, I felt incredibly honored and deeply privileged to be included with so many others doing life-changing work for people who live with mental health concerns. Here is the write-up that the Warroad Pioneer put on their front page in the Nov 6 issue. Full text and article links are below.
Kellie Knight Receives NAMI Media Award
NAMI Minnesota (Minnesota’s branch of the National Alliance on Mental Illness) announced special recognition award winners on Saturday, Nov. 3 at the organization’s annual State Conference held in St. Paul. The awards recognize individuals or organizations in nine different categories that have demonstrated extraordinary work and advocacy on behalf of children or adults with mental illnesses and their families.
Recognized beside the likes of Senator Susan Kent, the St. Paul Police Department, Grand Casino Hinckley and State Representative Jenifer Loon was one of the Pioneer’s own, Kellie Knight.
Kellie was given the Media Award for her series on mental health in rural communities, which the Pioneer published earlier this year in January and February. The Media Award recognizes an individual or organization that has been instrumental in reducing negative attitudes and discrimination towards people with mental illnesses, reporting on the needs of people with mental illnesses or effectively portraying the stories of people with mental illnesses and their families.
In his introduction of her award, Kevin Hanstad, a member of the NAMI board of directors, told the conference goers “Kellie is a reporter for the Warroad Pioneer and writes a blog. Kellie is from The Angle, the northernmost spot in the lower 48 states – it’s that little bump up on the top of Minnesota when you look at a map. She wrote a four-part series about mental health. The first segment was titled ‘What’s Eating Rural America?’ She raised the issue of the high suicide rate among farmers and the reluctance to talk about such in rural Minnesota. Kellie wrote, ‘Despite being far from the speed and the bustle of the city, regardless of our clean air and pristine water, even with our close-knit communities and disproportionately large numbers claiming faith, we rural folk are not immune to the stress of the modern-day world. We still fall prey to anxiety and all its many causes. We, too, suffer from the most common mental illness, depression, at levels nearly on par with our urban counterparts.’ The series went on to explore what businesses are doing to support the mental health of their employees, the lack of access to mental health care, children’s mental health, how difficult it can be to be anonymous in a small community and steps people can take to both understand mental illnesses and support their own mental health. Knowing the reluctance to talk about mental illnesses, particularly in rural Minnesota, Kellie opened the door; she started the conversation. It was incredibly well-written and we know that it made an impact on the community. Please join me in thanking Kellie for her incredible series.”
In her remarks to the conference, Kellie thanked NAMI for looking northward and for keeping rural communities in their hearts and minds. “It is very humbling and such an honor to stand beside people making a tremendous difference in the lives of so many Minnesotans,” she said.
Mental Health Series:
Part 1: What’s Eating Rural America?
Part 4: The New Normal
Sidebar 1: Know the Signs and Symptoms
Sidebar 2: Where to Get Help
Pretty darn neat, when it’s all said and done! I keep looking at the plaque on my office wall and can’t help but feel a touch of validation. I worked really hard on that series but never expected it to be recognized or go beyond the walls of the Pioneer. I feel so honored that it was!