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Two clubs organize second annual run to end mental health stigma

By Hayden McBennet, October 3 2014 —

Two student clubs will host the second annual marathon for mental health, Outrun the Stigma (OTS), on Sunday, Oct. 5.

OTS was organized by the University of Calgary Distress Centre on Campus club (DCC) and the Mental Health Awareness club (MHA). Participants choose between a five-kilometre run and a three-kilometre walk.

There will also be a guest speaker, resource fair and post-run wellness activities.

“We have a new route this year, some really fantastic volunteers from on and off campus [and] more emphasis on story-telling and story sharing. We want to emphasize sharing mental health stories and starting those discussions,” said Clare Hickie, member of the Outrun the Stigma planning committee and MHAC.

Participation costs $15. OTS raised over $4,600 last year from over 230 participants. Organizers hope to raise $7,000 and attract over 250 participants this year. All profits go towards Distress Centre Calgary.

“Logistically, our event is getting much bigger. We’re really trying to create an open forum where people can feel comfortable and safe discussing mental health and their own struggles and how that effects their friends or family,” Hickie said.

Vice-president and chief operating officer at Bethany Seniors Centre in Calgary Heath Heath Miller will speak at OTS.

President of the DCC and OTS co-founder Amy Li hopes the run will leave a lasting impact on students.

“We hope the legacy of the run is that people will continue to talk about mental health awareness issues even after the run is concluded. We hope discussion will continue till next year,” Li said.

The U of C offers mental-health resources like the Wellness Centre, DCC and MHA. Students get 10 free sessions at the Wellness Centre over the course of their degree.

Teenagers and young adults aged 15–24 experience the highest rates of mental-health disorders of any age group in Canada, according to the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA).

“Being a student, you have to balance demands like finances with time, with classes, with a social life. It’s difficult,” said Jonah Ardiel, Students Union vice-president student life.

Students will also be able to discuss mental health concerns at Meet Your Monkey, a summit being held by the SU and the Wellness Centre on Friday, Oct. 17.

“The legacy we hope to create is not just something people go to for a day and then forget about, we hope the legacy of the run is that people will continue to talk about mental health awareness issues even after the run is concluded. We hope discussion will continue till next year,” Li said.

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