That was the message North Island – Powel River MP Rachel Blaney had to share with those in attendance Sunday at the 5th annual Campbell River Defeat Depression Walk, which took place at Robert Ostler Park.
The walk is put on each year by the staff and volunteers of the Beacon Club, a non-profit day program and social club on Pier Street for adults with mental illness, and is one of their main annual fundraisers in support of their programming and those who make use of it.
Administrator with the Beacon Club, Robyn Ellsworth, says each year they raise about $5,000 from the walk, but, almost more importantly, it builds awareness within the community about the struggles many people live with every day of their lives.
“It’s helping reduce the stigma surrounding mental illness,” Ellsworth says. “It’s still very much a taboo in our society. It’s changing – very slowly – and we want to let people know that it’s okay to talk about it.”
Blaney says it’s a topic that needs addressing on a national scale, but events like this one – happening at the community level – go a long way to helping.
“Thank you for the work that you do. Thank you for reminding people every day that they have value,” Blaney told the crowd before the walk got underway, saying she will “continue to be a strong advocate in the House of Commons for these really important issues and help make sure that the resources are there so that we can help people who need it and that we can give them opportunities and make them feel valued.”
Blaney also shared her own brother’s story of struggling with mental illness.
“I moved him to be closer to me,” Blaney told the crowd, “because I know that for the rest of his life, he needs someone to be there. It’s been a huge humbling experience. I know that I certainly haven’t always been the best sister, and he’s been very good at telling me when I’m not being helpful, but he’s also been good at telling me when I was. We learn together how to live with this day to day.”