Mental health walk aims to fight stigma
Published Sunday, October 14, 2012 12:07PM EDT
Last Updated Sunday, October 14, 2012 7:38PM EDT
MONTREAL - A Walk for Mental Health took place in Montreal Sunday in order to raise awareness and reduce the stigma surrounding mental illness.
The event began at Phillips Square at 11 a.m. and headed west toward Guy St. The walk is a fundraiser that also aims to support mental health services.
Honorary president of the walk is Margaret Trudeau, former wife of the late prime minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau, and mother of Liberal leadership hopeful Justin Trudeau.
According to expert estimates, more than 20 per cent of Canadians will experience a mental health problem during their life.
However, because of the stigma and fear associated with mental illness, two thirds of those who suffer will never seek help.
“The fact that one in five people suffer from some form of mental illness means that if there's 10 of us bunching together, two of us will be suffering,” said Dr. Mimi Israel, psychiatrist-in-chief of the Douglas Institute.
Randy Mylyk, who lives with a mental illness, said he understands the stigma.
“I was very ashamed, and it’s because of what we hear on the outside world: ‘Oh, he must be really weak or he doesn't have courage to battle the illness’, or even worse, it’s because you’re somewhat crazy,” he said.
Despite increased efforts to raise awareness, the stigma and fear associated with mental illness are very much alive.
“We have to stop this discrimination. We have to stop this stigma that's out there,” said Mike Santoro, another man who lives with mental illness. “It’s very hard to live a normal life when you have the label of mental illness. It’s hard to get a job, it’s hard to get a partner, and it’s hard to just be yourself and be normal.”
Trudeau, who suffered from depression, said hiding the illness is the biggest mistake some people make.
“Get help. Get the courage. Find it in you. You can't change without getting help and getting someone to take your hand metaphorically and help through the process of getting recovered,” she said.
With a report from La Presse Canadienne