Thursday, August 20, 2009

Event in Dartmouth

August 19
Today we rode 70 kms or so from Truro then met up with about 8 riders near Waverly before riding into the Xerox office in Dartmouth.
Rebbecca Moore and her committee had been working all day on several fundraising activities and they had an enthusiastic welcoming group whooping it up as we rounded the building. We were introduced by Cameron Bruce and Mel and Lindsay spoke to the people assembled on the lawn. Keith Brumwell of the CMHA Halifax Region and Ruth, a consumer speaker, also spoke telling us of the programs provided by the local CMHA and the benefits to consumers. A cheque was presented to the CMHA. Thanks for the pictures Peter.
After the formal event we had an opportunity to speak to several people. One supporter came to thank us for what we are doing to raise awareness about mental health, “I thought I could get through this” she said, tears welling up. “We have schizophrenia in my family. When my brother was diagnosed it seemed to come out of the blue, but it turns out my uncle did and one of his sons too. Nobody talks about it. It’s hard on everyone. There needs to be support and help for the families too.” Her family’s experience is not unique. Another individual approached us and spoke about his mental illness. “I have OCD and it is difficult for me sometimes. I know about the stigma too. Luckily my wife is very understanding.”
Sadly, most people know very little about the signs and symptoms of mental illness. Nor do they understand just how many people are affected and live with the effects everyday. All too often individuals and their families deal with the intrusive and devastating effects of mental illness in silence, without support or understanding from friends, employers, co workers. Stigma and discrimination around mental illness is a result of misinformation or no information at all. Often the media perpetuates negative stereotypes. Too many people, including consumers and their families, buy into these myths around mental illness. The effect of stigma is silence.
It is important to speak up about mental health. Lindsay has told her story many times over in part to inform and build awareness and in part to encourage others to do the same. It's time to make mental health part of everyday plain conversation.

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