CUPA walks for mental health

Psychology Association wants to see mental illness accepted

The sixth edition of “Montreal walks for mental health” took place this Sunday, Oct. 5, and for the second time the Concordia Undergraduate Psychology Association (CUPA) decided to take part.

A dozen Concordia students — four of which were CUPA executives — joined a total of 2,000 or so people who came under the banner of the Montreal walks for mental health foundation’s mission to fight the stigma surrounding mental illness. The walk allows the foundation to raise awareness and collect funds, giving them the opportunity to support various initiatives that offer services to people dealing with mental illness. The walk progressed for several kilometers and began downtown at Phillips Square.

In preparation, CUPA organized a two-day bake sale last week, with all money raised donated towards the event.

A number of students came to express their enthusiasm and support towards the initiative. “It was really amazing to witness the extent of people that came out to support mental illnesses. We are extremely proud of the amount of donations we were able to raise, and all the positive energy and words of encouragement we received,” said Elizabeth Duong, CUPA president.

“Today, awareness and education should be our priority. Our biggest challenge is to support families who live with mental illnesses through support groups. They also need assistance to help them use the right resources in the medical system,” said Annie Young, former president of Action on Mental Illness Quebec.

According to the organizers, one out of five Canadians will experience some form of mental illness during their lifetimes. Their objective is to eliminate the prejudices and stigma surrounding mental health problems and allow people to feel comfortable talking about them and seeking help when they need it without the fear of discrimination.

Grievances with the current state of things were shared at the march. Participants complained the health care budgets for mental health aren’t adequate to meet the needs. In the crowd, a Concordia counsellor mentioned how students tend to feel ashamed, and she stated that seeking mental illness treatments shouldn’t be more stigmatized than, for instance, seeking cancer treatment.

“As psychology students, the lack of awareness about mental health and the stigma associated with it is something that we gear our education and careers towards. The walk was an excellent chance for our students to meet and network with numerous individuals that felt the same way,” said Duong.

“The walk proved there is hope for victims and that they are not alone. This is the second year that CUPA participated in the walk, and will certainly not be the last.”

Before next year’s walk, make sure to pass by the Mental Health Awareness fair of Concordia, which will take place on Wednesday, Oct. 8, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the EV building.

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