By Scott Strasser, September 5 2016 —
A University of Calgary student initiative to address mental health awareness became a not-for-profit organization this May, paving the way for the group’s expansion.
Outrun the Stigma was created in 2013 by the U of C’s Distress Centre on Campus club and the Mental Health Awareness club. The organization holds an annual walk/run around the U of C campus every fall. Participants can choose between running five kilometres or walking three kilometres.
“We had noticed there was a gap in runs [for] mental health awareness, so we decided to start Outrun the Stigma,” said OTS co-founder Amy Li, a second-year MD student in the Cumming School of Medicine.
Now four years old, OTS became a certified not-for-profit organization this spring. Li said the biggest change since May is the ability to take the organization “to the next level.”
“Our goal is to expand our online story-sharing platform and annual running event to different universities around Canada,” she said. “I think since becoming an NPO, we’ve taken a more professional step towards becoming a nation-wide organization.”
The organization’s online story-sharing platform gives an outlet to those who want to tell their stories surrounding mental health.
“The story-sharing platform is something where we know from research that the best way for reducing mental health stigma is through that person… sharing stories of recovery, which is why it’s such an important part of our organization,” Li said.
OTS also organizes a Mental Health Expo alongside the annual walk/run. The event brings together guest speakers, local organizations, business and charities aiming to reduce stigma surrounding mental health and mental illness.
Since their inception in 2013, OTS has raised over $24,000 for Distress Centre Calgary.
The fourth annual Outrun the Stigma event will be held on October 16 at the U of C.
For more information visit http://www.outrunthestigma.ca/