Members of the Harrison Highlanders came out to support the Defeat Depression walk

Mental health awareness walk doubles in size

Time to defeat depression stigma, says Harrison/Agassiz walk organizer

In the not-so-distant future, Andrea McRae can imagine a society where there is no stigma attached to mental illness.

“I would bet you that in 20 years, depression is more accepted,” she said. “Little by little it will be like other diseases.”

McRae is the organizer of the Defeat Depression walk in the Agassiz and Harrison area, held on Sunday. While the rain fell down on walkers and runners as they beat a 5.5 km path around the lagoon, their spirits remained high.

About 70 people registered in this year’s event, and even more showed up to lend their support. In total, they managed to raise about $3,500 — double what they raised at last year’s inaugural event.

The money will go toward the Mood Disorders of Canada Society, a non-profit that helps organize the run/walks across the country.

McRae chose to get involved and start the local event last year, partly because of her own history with mental health. But more than that, she wants to lift the veil on depression and let others know that it’s okay to have depression.

“It’s all about accepting it,” she says. “It’s understanding that it’s not because you’re making bad decisions, it’s not because you just can’t get a grip. It’s accepting the fact it’s an illness… no different than a physical disease.”

McRae knows how difficult it can be to live with depression. But organizing the walk isn’t about her own illness.

“I do this not to wave a placard and say look at me I’m the mom of someone who died of suicide and that I’m someone with a mental illness,” she says. “I’m here to honour all of us.”

MDCS reports that of all those with mental illness in the world, 75% will never receive any treatment, and estimates that 450 million people worldwide have mental or neurological disorders.

In Canada, one in five people will have a mental illness in their lifetime, and 10% of Canadians are dealing with mental illness at any given time. Mental illness is an overarching term for numerous illnesses that cause “serious disturbance in thoughts, feelings and perceptions that is severe enough to affect day to day functioning.”

They include schizophrenia, depression, bi-polar disorder, anxiety disorder, eating disorders and borderline personality disorder.”

They are all diagnosable disorders, but can also go untreated. Often, people succumb to their illness and commit suicide.

Of the top three violent suicides around the world, suicide claims the highest rate at 49%.(Homicide and war-related deaths place lower at 31% and 18%.)

And in Canada, 90% of people who commit suicide have a diagnosable mental illness.

Locally, the walk has had the support of MP Mark Strahl since it began last year.

He contacted McRae when he heard about it, and signed up and walked along the small group that gathered last year. This year, he was scheduled to be in Ottawa in the afternoon but stopped in briefly to speak to the crowd.

“Mental health is something I’m very passionate about, I work with the National Defence Committee and right now we’re studying PTSD and care and we’ve talked a lot about mental illness,” Strahl said.

Mental health over-arcs all different health care issues, including other health problems and even aging, he pointed out.

Mostly, he underlined the importance that mental health be taken seriously, and respected.

“No one questions your character if you have high blood pressure or you break your arm or you have diabetes,” he said. “But there are still questions about your fortitude if you suffer from mental illness.”

Mental illness touches every family, he said, but help is there for those who seek it.

He then added words of comfort to his speech, before leaving for Ottawa.

“It’s okay if you have mental illness, we’re going to rally around you as if you had any other illness.”

Having Strahl’s support, as a speaker and as a registered walker, means a lot of McRae.

She said she will continue to organize the walk for the area, and when no longer able, is confident someone else will pick up the torch.

“You don’t always feel like smiling,” she said. “But (during the walk) there is almost a camaraderie. It’s a safe place.”

To learn more about mental health, visit www.mooddisorderscanada.ca. To access services locally, call Community Services at 604-796-2585.

news@ahobserver.com

 

 

 

Just Posted

New ‘meowyoral’ race featuring felines announced by Chilliwack animal shelter

Organizers hope the cat election will generate attention for both the shelter and municipal election

VIDEO: Education Minister talks SOGI 123 and the Chilliwack school board election

He said people are making ‘noise about side issues but student safety is important’

Chilliwack athletes win provincial titles at Cultus Lake Triathlon

Close to 700 athletes competed in several distances, with action starting at Cultus Lake Park.

Chilliwack Chiefs add defenceman Alexander Marrocco

Marrocco is the younger brother of PJ Marrocco, a forward from last spring’s RBC Cup champions.

Rally in the Valley in Chilliwack to talk stewardship

It’s an event to connect interested locals with groups making a difference with species at risk

B.C. RCMP turn to Const. Scarecrow to shock speeders into slowing down

New addition will watch over drivers from a Coquitlam median for first-of-its-kind pilot in Canada

B.C. home to 1/3 of Canada’s overdose deaths in first 3 months of the year

There were 1,036 overdose deaths in the first three months of the year, with 94 per cent accidental

B.C. candidate moves from hospice care to council race

He beat terminal cancer twice and entered hospice when he decided to run for council.

Canadian tobacco exec pushes back against vaping health concerns

A warning from Interior Health about the unknown health risks of vaping is getting a partial rebuke

Ministry of Agriculture commits $300,000 to help B.C. farmers obtain land

B.C. Land Matching Program supports access to affordable farmland for young farmers

Lower Mainland city calls for slower trains near popular beach

Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner said ‘it’s the least we can do’

Canadian air force short 275 pilots

Attrition outpaces recruitment and training claims Air Force

Teacher suspended after physically shushing, saying ‘shut up’ to student

Grade 5 student reported feeling ‘confused and a little scared’

Most Read