The Celebration of Lights kicks off with lighting of Tree of Hope at West Acres Shopping Center

FARGO, N.D. (Valley News Live) - This years annual celebration of lights was kicked off Wednesday night at the West Acres shopping mall with the lighting of the Tree of Hope.

The Tree of Hope serves as a beacon of light to help erase the stigma of mental illness and as a reminder of the importance of mental health advocacy.

Senator Judy Lee lit the tree at the event that was free to the public.

Mental Health America of North Dakota offers lights to purchase which can then be dedicated to loved ones, and it will be lit for the remainder of the season.

Carlotta McCleary, Executive Director for Mental Health America says much help is still needed for those individuals battling mental health issues but says help starts with the discussion.

"Much like heart diseases or any other chronic health condition, we talk about it and we share with people and we have our community around us and support us. When you have a stigma it impacts funding, it impacts the ability to access services...it really does impact a lot, so we really need to do what we can to help erase that stigma."

For more information on the celebration of lights, and how you can purchase a tree, check out this link: