A new local talent show aims to bring awareness, celebrate differences, and break the stigma around mental health.
Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre will host the Rising Star talent show on May 8, 2019 at 7 pm. The event is free and open to anyone 16 years of age and older. Parking passes, along with light refreshments and snacks will be available. The event is in support of National Mental Health Awareness Week.
“Mental illness affects people of all ages, education, income levels, and cultures,” explained Heather Kozak, Clinical Psychological Associate and Chair of the Mental Health Awareness Committee at the Hospital. “Unfortunately there is still stigma or discrimination surrounding mental health. This presents a serious barrier not only to diagnosis and treatment, but also to acceptance in the community.”
Mental illness indirectly affects all Canadians at some time through a family member, friend or colleague. In fact, the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) stated that in any given year 1 in 5 people in Canada will personally experience a mental health problem or illness.
Rising Star is a positive step towards reducing the stigma in Northwestern Ontario. “The first step towards eliminating stigma is becoming more open to a conversation about mental health, which is what our Hospital ‘Rising Star’ talent show is all about,” encouraged Kozak. “The talent show will showcase a diverse range of performers from Hospital staff, community members, and patients. Many of the performers have overcome personal challenges with mental illness through ways of performing. Our hope is that this event will break the stigma, increase mental wellness, and encourage others who may be experiencing issues relating to their mental health know they are not alone.”
Providing mental health education, awareness and support is especially important in Northwestern Ontario, as our region sees a higher rate of mental health issues compared to the rest of the province. In fact, the Emergency Department at our Hospital is one of the busiest in the province, with 6,320 visits related to mental health and additions reported in 2017.
Even though many individuals seek support, most people with mental health illness are not treated. “Stigma can often prevent those struggling with their mental health from seeking the help they need,” explained Dr. Mandy McMahan, Psychologist and Director of Forensic and Adult Mental Health. “Almost one half (49%) of those who feel they have suffered from depression or anxiety have never gone to see a doctor about this problem, as reported by CMHA. It is important for our community to understand that challenging the stigma associated with mental health takes understanding, education and a closer look at our own attitudes toward health.”
Registration for the event is mandatory. To register, go to www.eventbrite.com. For more information on the event, contact Heather at (807) 684-6471.