CMHA launches The Sole Project for mental health

Todd Shearon
By Todd Shearon March 31, 2017 11:55
The CMHA's Sole Project encourages people to 'take a stand' for mental health by showing their SOLE in hopes that others will follow in their footsteps.  Photo by Todd Shearon.

The CMHA’s Sole Project encourages people to ‘take a stand’ for mental health by showing their SOLE in hopes that others will follow in their footsteps.
Photo by Todd Shearon.

The Canadian Mental Health Association has launched The Sole Project to bring attention to growing mental health concerns.

The Sole Project encourages people to “take a stand” for mental health as a collective to further enhance and distribute mental wellness education, awareness and training in the community.

Campaign ambassadors include the Windsor Express, Unifor Local 444 and Caesars Windsor.

Other supporters included CTV’s Arms Bumanlang, host of a recent project event at the WFCU Centre.

“Without our ambassadors I don’t think we could officially launch Sole Focus Project,” said Jenny-Lee Almeida, mental health educator at the CMHA. “We’ve got Arms, the Spitfires, our Olympian Noelle Montcalm, our CEO Claudia den Boer and the Windsor police. That shows everybody is invested in this and as a community. If we start speaking up and talking about it we are going to be able to increase the education, training, workshops and make a difference in Windsor.”

The campaign seeks to raise $500,000 over the next three years in support of mental health awareness, education and training.

The Windsor Spitfires, who facilitated the event at the WFCU Centre, recently participated in workshops to educate players about mental illness to help reduce stigmas as part of a league-wide initiative.

“The stigma is it’s a weakness or something is wrong with you, but that’s not the case at all,” said Windsor Spitfires General Manager Warren Rychel. “It’s just a sickness like getting a cold, getting the flu or an injury in hockey. It has to be corrected and rehabilitated and that can happen here with all the knowledge that’s out.”

According to statistics, mental illness affects more than six million people across the country. Approximately 11 people die by suicide every day in Canada while another 210 will attempt it daily.

“We want people to start communicating and talking about mental health,” said Aleida. “We personally might not understand what is going on with our minds and I think that’s where the education and prevention piece come in.”

From 2010-2015 the local rate of emergency room visits because of self-harm among youth has increased by 143 per cent.

“Getting to our youth at an earlier age and letting them know if they are feeling this way, sometimes it’s a good indication you are feeling sad or maybe you are feeling a little anxious and that’s okay,” said Almeida.

CMHA experts say one in five Canadians are personally affected by a mental illness or addiction issues during their lifetime. It has never been more important to take a stand for mental health considering the increased demand for services coupled with limited health care dollars.

“We’re trying to make people aware that they can receive help in our local community,” said CMHA Fund Development and Community Relations Coordinator Ashley Vodareck. “You don’t have to be afraid to ask for that help. Once we stand up and say ‘I do have this struggle’ it makes a huge difference on our lives and we can actually get better. It’s time we start learning that we have to take care of our brains just like we do the rest of our bodies.”

Todd Shearon
By Todd Shearon March 31, 2017 11:55

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