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Montrealers walk for mental health

by Nelly Sérandour-Amar October 18, 2016 0 comment

People from the city gathered to help raise awareness about mental health

Hundreds of Montrealers came together on a rainy Sunday morning to raise money and awareness for mental health.

Children and adults participated in the 8th annual MONTREAL WALKS for mental health event. The four-kilometer walk began at Phillips Square, passed by Concordia University and parts of the downtown Montreal area before concluding back at Phillips Square.

Throughout the year thus far, MONTREAL WALKS has raised $32,000 during various events, which will be donated to non-profit organizations that provide mental health services in Montreal.

MONTREAL WALKS for mental health director Orly Ashair was impressed by the number of people who committed to the event and walked through the wet weather. Walkers participated individually or in teams.

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Smiling participants raising awareness about mental health. Photo by Alex Hutchins

“Different organizations share a fundraising drive with us,” said Ashair. Out of the money raised, Ashair explained the organizations get to keep 60 per cent to donate to a group of their choice, which must be related to helping mental health. The remaining 40 per cent goes towards funding the yearly MONTREAL WALKS for mental health. However, organizers of the walk are strictly volunteers, thus unpaid, Ashair added.

One of the teams that took part in the event was Jack.org Concordia, the university’s chapter of the broader Jack.org organization. The organization consists of a national network of young leaders seeking to change perceptions of mental health. The group walked in the pouring rain to help eliminate stigma and discrimination towards people living with mental illnesses.

Alexis Perez, Jack.org Concordia’s president attended Sunday’s walk. “During this experience, people shared their stories,” she said. “From my perspective, it was great to unite as one, and come together to end the silence around mental health.”

As part of Mental Health Awareness Month, Jack.org Concordia is teaming up with the university to host a variety of events and activities, including yoga and art session, throughout the month of October. Their goal is to teach all students about mental health and have people share their personal stories.

According to the MONTREAL WALKS website, currently, about 18 per cent of Quebecers have a mental health disorder. In Montreal, 29 per cent of people will experience depression, anxiety disorders or disorders related to drugs or alcohol in their lifetime. Also, two out of three people suffer with mental health in silence, for fear of being judged and rejected, according to the website.

In the last four years, the event has raised more than $35,000 yearly for local community mental health organizations.

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