Local club builds awareness and raises funds for the fight against mental illness

By: Mike Davies

This year marks the fifth annual running of the Defeat Depression Walk here in Campbell River, which Beacon Club administrator Robyn Ellsworth says is an excellent opportunity to raise both awareness surrounding mental health issues in our community and funds to fight for those who live with these issues every day of their lives.

“Mental health is important for everybody,” Ellsworth says. “Whether it’s stress at work or just having a million things on the go in life. But then there are the more severe issues like schizophrenia or bipolar or PTSD – which I think is becoming much more well-known with what’s been coming out about military personnel and first responders and people in those kinds of professions – there still needs to be a lot more done in terms of getting rid of that stigma.”

So that’s what they want the walk to do.20160529_103906

“Every little bit helps,” Ellsworth says. “Every time someone shares their story about how mental health issues affect their life makes a difference. If you keep hearing it over and over again, eventually it’ll get in there for people. And you don’t need to have some kind of connection to mental health issues or have experienced some kind of tragedy or anything like that to be involved. Anyone can come out and lend their support – and maybe learn something.”

Like awareness, every bit helps in terms of fundraising, as well, which is the other purpose of the walk.

The Beacon Club – a day program and social club for adults with mental illness within our community, first opened in 1993 – gets most of its funding from Island Health with additional grants from organizations like the United Way, BCLC, and the Campbell River Community Foundation.

“But even with all that, we still need to fund raise,” Ellsworth says. Programs at the Beacon Club range from trips out into the community for musical events at coffee shops or other cultural events, to weekly lunch and dinner events, to billiards tournaments or jam nights at the club itself.

elaineBut for right now, it’s all about the walk.

“The main thing we need is for people to sign up,” Ellsworth says. “We need people to come out and participate. They can bring their animals, they can bring their kids in strollers, whatever they want to do … it would be great if some of the schools wanted to get involved, because I think if the kids become aware of it an earlier age, it will do a lot to start chipping away at that stigma.”

For more information on the Beacon Club, head online campbellriverbeaconclub.com or email Ellsworth at robyn.ellsworth@shaw.ca. For more on the Defeat Depression Walk – scheduled this year for June 11 – to register or pledge a donation, head over to defeatdepression.ca or follow @DefDepression on Twitter.