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Second annual Defeat Depression Run/Walk takes place Nov. 5

By Patrick Bales, The Orillia Packet & Times

World Mental Health Day was Tuesday and in Orillia preparations are well underway for the second annual Defeat Depression Run/Walk.

The fundraiser, which takes place at Scout Valley, is set for Nov. 5. In 2016, there were more than 90 run/walks to benefit Defeat Depression, a national campaign designed to provide hope and reduces stigma for people who are affected by depression and other mood disorders.

"It's all about raising funding and awareness in regard to mental health issues, specifically depression, suicide and suicide prevention," explained Ken Porter, program manager for Defeat Depression.

In Orillia, the money raised will support Telecare Distress Line of Greater Simcoe, a free, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, anonymous service for Simcoe County and area. At Telecare, specially trained volunteers listen to the callers without judgement, while offering acknowledgement and support. If necessary, community referrals are provided.

"(It) provides direct crisis support to individuals who are going through traumatic events and need somebody to talk to," Porter said. "It's a very concrete way that the campaign can provide front-line resources to individuals in Orillia."

The first run/walk in Orillia took place in 2016. Porter admitted the attendance wasn't as strong as expected, but called it a good start. Organizers are hoping to grow the event in the coming years, as it continues to be part of the fundraising calendar.

As important as the money raised to help Telecare, the awareness piece is an essential component of the run/walk, Porter stressed.

"Most mental health issues are not discussed because of the stigma surrounding mental health," Porter said. "It's so hush-hush. The people, therefore, because it has such a stigma, they internalize it. They think it's some type of a character flaw as opposed to an illness."

That's an essential factor in changing the way those with mental health issues are both treated by their peers in a community and how they treat themselves. Porter feels people need to begin accepting mental illness they way they accept having the cold or flu: it's something that can happen at anytime and can be taken care of through treatment.

"Mental illness is no different than physical illness and you can seek treatment the same way," Porter added. "If you don't seek treatment for a physical illness, it will get worse and it will possibly lead to serious problem. The same thing will happen with mental health issues."

To "normalize" mental illness in the vein of physical illness, the conversation needs to begin. Events such as the Defeat Depression campaign seek to do that, by giving people the safe space to discuss their concerns, in hope that safe space can expand into the greater community as a whole.

The Defeat Depression 1/5/10 km run/walk takes place Nov. 5 at Scout Valley. Registration is at 8:30 a.m., with the event beginning at 9 a.m. and wrapping up by noon.

For more information, search Orillia Defeat Depression on Facebook.

pbales@postmedia.com

twitter.com/patrickbales



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