Ride Don’t Hide from mental illness

June 26 Ride raises money and awareness for the Canadian Mental Health Association

Geoff Courtnall and Mayor Nils Jensen

Geoff Courtnall and Mayor Nils Jensen

Oak Bay will have a few high-profile cyclists putting foot to pedal in support of mental heath this month.

Among those registered for the third annual Ride Don’t Hide event for Canadian Mental Health Association are former NHLer Geoff Courtnall, riding the 105-kilometre route, and Mayor Nils Jensen, who with available council members and some municipal staff will tackle the 28km route.

Olympic bronze medalist cyclist Gillian Carleton also joins the ride again this year.

“Anything dealing with mental health we try to get involved with and support,” says Courtnall, who with his family has been instrumental in raising both awareness and funds in support of mental health in Greater Victoria. “There’s so much more that needs to be done.”

The family’s Courtnall Celebrity Classic has raised more than $3 million for mental health. The Archie Courtnall Centre at Royal Jubilee Hospital, which offers emergency psychiatric services, is named in memory of siblings Geoff, Russ, Bruce and Cheryl’s father, who struggled with depression before committing suicide.

The Shoppers Drug Mart Ride Don’t Hide Event cycles from Ogden Point June 26.

Corporate teams, school groups, friends and families from all across Canada will join together to ride in 30 communities across Canada.

The message from the CMHA is to “get loud” about mental health: raise awareness, reduce stigma, show support and ultimately take action for mental health.

“I think it’s very important for families and I think a lot of people suffer in silence. People need to be more aware that it’s OK, and if they need help to reach out,” Courtnall says.

Jensen was involved in the first ride and says he understands the importance of bringing the issue of mental health into the public eye. Jensen lost an uncle to suicide, but it wasn’t something the family spoke about until later in life, and that reluctance must change.

“If someone has a broken arm, we don’t tell them not to talk about it,” Jensen notes.

The local ride is open to cyclists of all ages and skill levels and this year will honour committee member Catherine Boissevain, a strong advocate for mental health who died in March.

“Getting loud means speaking up to stop the stigma and discrimination against those living with a mental illness,” says Oak Bay’s Jocelyn de Montmorency, program manger CMHA BC Division – Victoria.

“It means taking action and using your voice to raise awareness and build communities that help prevent mental illness and promote mental health for all. For someone at work. For someone at home. For yourself.”

In any given year, one in five Canadians experience a mental health problem or illness. Mental health issues affect everyone – those we love, work with or know.

The Ride Don’t Hide movement began in 2010 with Michael Schratter, a Canadian teacher living with bipolar disorder who cycled 40,000 km across 33 countries. Armed with only a bike and a knapsack, his dream of empowering those experiencing mental illness touched people all over the world. His journey has grown into national movement that is raising funds for mental health and breaking the stigma around mental illness.

“I’ve never dreamed that my solo journey around the world would make such an impact on Canadians, which is so inspiring to see,” says Schratter, Ride Don’t Hide founder and ambassador. “Ride Don’t Hide is a way to engage conversations and breakdown misconceptions. Help us end the stigma around mental illness. Take part in Ride Don’t Hide.”

Founded in 1918, the Canadian Mental Health Association is a national charity that helps maintain and improve mental health for all Canadians, helping people access the community resources to build resilience and support recovery from mental illness. Visit cmha.ca for more information.

Register for the ride, or donate online at ridedonthide.com, selecting the B.C., then Victoria links.

 

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