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April 21st, 2014 ~ Vol. 84 No. 20
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Putting a human face on mental illness
Crowsnest Pass Herald Front Page
Ezra Black Photo
Faces of Mental Health will be on display throughout the month of May.
EZRA BLACK
Pass Herald Reporter
Shane Collett has been dealing with depression since he was 13 years old.
He saw his first counsellor at the age of 14, had suicidal thoughts at 16, made an unsuccessful attempt at 18 and has hit several rough patches since then.
Through much of it, Collett suffered in silence. He says depression and mental issues were not talked about when he was growing up.
But now at 44, Collett is sharing his story to help raise awareness of mental illness through a new campaign called ‘Faces of Mental Health.’
As part of the campaign, displays have been set up around the community featuring the photos and stories of people who have suffered from mental illness, including Collett.
“I think [Faces of Mental Health] is a step in the right direction,” he says. “I’m not saying people have to come front and centre with their problems, but if you’re struggling with depression and mental illness, reach out for help. Contact somebody and make the effort to get the help you need.”
“People think they can get through [depression] on their own but it’s a tough thing to go through,” says Collett. “I wanted to stop hiding it and the way to do that is to reach out. I’ve had great support from my wife, kids, family and friends and that part has made it easier.”
Randi Lyn Rinaldi, coordinator for Darcy’s Nature Walk, asked locals who had experienced mental illness to share their stories, five people came forward.
“The common theme was many of them had suffered in silence during a portion of their diagnosis and that was the hardest time for them,” says Rinaldi.
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Rinaldi says all five were open about their mental illnesses but sharing their stories in a public setting was a good step in their therapy. A few of them wanted their voices heard to create awareness of how common mental illnesses can be.
The posters can be viewed at the hospital, the provincial building and Stone’s Throw Café in Blairmore. They’ll be on display throughout the month of May, which is also Mental Health Awareness Month.
Rinaldi hopes to turn Faces of Mental Health into an annual campaign and she hopes more people participate in the years to come.
The Crowsnest Pass Health Foundation, Brad Chisholm Photography & Design, Stone’s Throw Café, CNP Health Centre and other organizations are sponsoring the project. But the main thrust is coming from the Rinaldi Family, the same folks who will be bringing you the 7th annual Darcy’s Nature Walk in June.
According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, about 20 per cent of Canadians or 1 in 5 people will experience a mental illness in their lifetime.
Janne Aikins, child life specialist, says campaigns like Faces of Mental Health are helping to make mental issues an open topic of discussion in the community.
“I am so proud of these people for coming forward because they’re making it a real topic,” says Aikins. “We’re such private individuals, and proud. And sometimes that gets in the way of admitting to things we struggle with.”
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April 21st ~ Vol. 84 No. 20
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