The move is on for mental illness!

We’re really moving in a positive direction when it comes to bringing attention to the realities of mental illness. For too long, it existed as one of the things we didn’t talk about. Thankfully, more and more of us are getting active in our desire to help end the stigmas around mental illness. Recently, the fourth annual Bell Let's Talk Day invited Canadians to join the conversation and help end the stigma around mental illness. Impressively, over 5 million dollars was raised for critical services that help Canadians with mental illness.

Now, Clara Hughes – Bell’s Let’s Talk Spokesperson for Mental Health and Olympic Champion, began a bike ride (Clara’s Big Ride) around Canada on March 14, 2014, to raise more awareness and encourage active participation to eliminate stigmas about mental illness. She plans to cover 12,000 km in 110 days and will make a stop in Edmonton on June 1, 2014. By visiting Clara's Big Ride, you can track her ride, donate to the cause and find out details about her stop in Edmonton.

To support Clara’s Big Ride, The Support Network, a United Way Funded Partner, and Community Champion for Edmonton, has partnered with the Canadian Mental Health Association Edmonton Region in the initiation of a new yearly campaign called the Move4MentalHealth. From now, until June 1, 2014, you are encouraged to get active, have fun and raise money for the mental health support services in your community.

Campaigns like Bell Let’s Talk Day, Clara’s Big Ride and Move4MentalHealth are important because mental health is fundamental to our overall health and well-being.  We know, unfortunately, many people living with mental illness still face many barriers over their lifetime. Stigma & discrimination towards mental illness often prevents people from accessing adequate supports, education and employment which can lead to drug addiction, poverty and even loss of life.

According to Health Canada, in any given year, one in five people in Canada experiences a mental health problem or illness. Mental illness affects everyone, either personally or through family, friends and colleagues. Educating the public about mental illness is a first step toward reducing the stigma and encouraging greater acceptance and understanding of mental illness.

We are fortunate to have a variety of great mental health services in our community. You can call “211” at any time for information about any mental health resources. Further, if you require immediate assistance, the Distress Line, a program through The Support Network runs 24/7. You can reach the Distress Line by dialling (780) 482 – HELP (4357).