Mental health conversation no walk in the park

Memorial University students will hold a Move for Mental Health walk Sunday at Bowring Park to raise money in support of the Gathering Place.

Kyle Reid

Rachel Ward, the community liaison for Memorial Minds, hopes events such as the upcoming Move for Mental Health at Bowring Park on Sunday can create a conversation that will break the stigma surrounding mental illness.

Mental illness is an issue that almost everyone deals with whether they are struggling with mental health issues or someone close to them is.

Jevon Marsh knows this.

“Mental health is something we are all affected by,” said Marsh, the co-chairperson of Memorial Minds, a Memorial University student-run organization dedicated to removing the stigma around mental illness and raising mental health awareness in the community.

“We all need good energy, a good environment, and a good supportive network,” said Marsh. “It’s so easy to fall into the gaps of negativity that exists in today’s society. The world is such a cruel place, but it doesn’t need to be.”

Memorial Minds is organizing the upcoming Move for Mental Health fund-raising walk on Oct. 15 at Bowring Park. It is one of the student group’s largest fund-raisers for community organizations.

This year, funds raised from the Move for Mental Health will go to support the Gathering Place, an organization that is dedicated to helping vulnerable populations throughout the city.

The Gathering Place needs such events as it finds itself helping hundreds of more people than usual these days.

CBC reported that last month 1,400 people who suffer from mental health, addiction issues, or both, had registered at the Gathering Place in need of the services that they provide, compared to 1,000 in June.

As the demand for the services the Gathering Place provides grows, so does the need of financial support for the organization.

“There’s just not enough support from the government for all of their costs,” said Rachel Ward, the community liaison for Memorial Minds. “The amount of people that are accessing the Gathering Place has just grown and grown.”

This makes events such as the Move for Mental Health essential in providing support for organizations that may have to close their doors without community assistance.

“Can you imagine if this organization were to for some reason be closed and prevented from providing their services?” asked Marsh. “By offering support to this organization, Memorial Minds offers support to a large population of our city; that’s why we are here—it’s why we do what we do.”

Last year, Memorial Minds raised more than $2,000 from the Move for Mental Health event in support of the Schizophrenia Society and the Comfort House. This year they hope to raise even more.

Events such as the Move for Mental Health not only raise money for community support but also create a conversation about mental illness that works to break the stigma surrounding these issues.

“It’s just a great chance to get out and talk about mental health and get that conversation started with people,” Ward said. “You can go and you can see how many other people are there attending this walk and you understand, kind of, how mental health affects so many people that we all want to be there and support it.”

Creating conversations about mental health is a key initiative of Memorial Minds. The group has also recently started a peer support group at Memorial University. Individuals suffering with mental health issues can go to a group session in a judgment-free environment and speak with someone who understands what they are going through.

Marsh has a message for everyone who wants to be part of the mental health conversation:

“[A]lways be loud and vocal; it’s the most effective way. Never let fear control and guide your life.”

The Move for Mental Health walk will take place at 10:30 a.m. Sunday, Oct. 15, at Bowring Park. The minimum donation is $5, and there will be provide pizza. Memorial Minds accepts donations through a link accessed through the Memorial Minds Facebook page.

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