March for mental health awareness
Young and old, more than 150 people took to the streets in the Town of Hawkesbury Friday morning for a march to the centre of town in celebration of National Mental Health Awareness Week in Canada.
The Canadian Association for Mental Health-Champlain East chapter (CAMH) organized the Oct. 6 event to finish off the week-long celebration of mental health services and awareness both in the Town of Hawkesbury and throughout the PrescottRussell region. CAMH representative Line Lapensée described the event as a “great finish” for the week-long campaign.
“People are getting more aware of it Plus de 150 personnes, les jeunes et les personnes âgées ont pris d’assaut les rues de la ville de Hawkesbury le vendredi matin 6 octobre, pour une marche au centreville afin de célébrer la Semaine nationale de sensibilisation à la santé mentale au Canada. (mental health),” Lapensée said during an interview following the walk.
Marchers gathered at Le Centre Viens et Vois on Mary Street in Hawkesbury for a prewalk orientation session. Waving placards, singing and dancing to recorded music, and with an OPP patrol car to lead the way as escort, marchers made their way downtown to join in a flash mob gathering at the village centre in a show of support for mental health and counselling programs available to residents of Hawkesbury and other communities in the Prescott-Russell region.
Students from several local high schools took time out from morning classes to take part in both the march and a “flash mob” gathering in the downtown core, which featured student-initiated songs and dancing, and also presentation from the CAMH of the Hope Award to Véronique Portelance, a local resident who has dealt with her own problems with help from local counsellors and now assists the local CMHA agency’s family needs program as well as volunteering time as a motivational speaker in the region for the association.
Lapensée noted that statistics show one in five Canadians experience some kind of emotional or psychological problem, ranging from severe stress to deep depression or any one of a number of mental health issues. Besides raising the public profile of good mental health, Lapensée noted that another goal of events like the Mental Illness Awareness Walk (MIAW) is to help erase the stigma of mental health problems.
“We want to take the shame away,” she said. “We want people to be able to come in and say ‘I’m not feeling good, I need help.’ So they can live a more productive life.
More information on the CMHA and the services it provides are available at www. cmha.ca or by phone to 1-800-493-8271.