Mental health has come to the forefront since the pandemic, so one group in Brandon is hitting the streets to raise funds and awareness over mood disorders.
Ten people are planning a five-kilometre run this Saturday evening as part of the LOVE YOU Shoppers Drug Mart Run for Women for The Mood Disorders Association of Manitoba. The official run is taking place in Winnipeg on Sunday starting at the legislature, but there are smaller and virtual runs being planned across the province from June 4-11.
The Brandon run group consists of staff members from the Shoppers on Victoria Avenue on Saturday evening, said front store manager Dana Davis.
The run is an informal one and a specific start time hasn’t been set due to working around staffing, but the team is planning to start from the Shoppers and run east.
"We are planning on a five-kilometre run, and we will try to stick together," she said. "I’ve done this since it began and I used to do the 10-kilometre run, but we are not going to make this competitive. It’s fun for us."
Every team member had to make a donation to participate, Davis said, plus they fundraised on their own. All the proceeds stay in Manitoba, she said, helping to fund programs and services the association offers.
There is a personal connection for Davis through her mother struggling with mood disorders for most of her life.
She said it was difficult for her to find assistance because her disorders were dismissed as menopause.
"She did manage to finally get some help and the last years of her life were happy, but before that it was a real struggle, and it hurt to see her suffer for so long," she said.
The Brandon office of the Mood Disorders Association of Manitoba will be at the Shoppers store today with an information booth and fundraising bake sale. Davis said this is the first time they’ve had representatives come in to talk specifically about the association and mood disorders while the team fundraises with the sale.
Marian Goldstone, regional manager for Mood Disorders Association of Manitoba, said this run supports their women’s programming, hence the name Run for Women. In the Westman region, there are several women-based groups that are run through the association, as well as local partnerships, financial backing from Shoppers and provincial support. Among the programs are Soul Sisters, a coffee and conversation group and a Baby Blues and Better Days support group for mothers working through post-partum depression and adjusting to parenthood. This is also available online across the province.
The pandemic forced the association to offer services online. While groups and organizations move back to in-person gatherings and appointments, Goldstone said they are keeping their hybrid virtual/in-person meeting model for good.
This helps them connect with people whatever they are and whatever challenges they are facing, she said.
Having mental health supports has become more important than ever, she said.
The pandemic put a lot of stress the health-care system, so there is a lot of post-pandemic demand on it to provide mental health supports.
"We are going through a time in our office right now where we are extremely busy," she said. "We are finding that so many folks emerging from the pandemic with that sense of anxiety. Everyone’s glad to be back connecting with people, but there’s a heightened awareness of what’s out there that could put us back in lockdown again and the reluctance to trust other people."
She added the stress has been especially bad for women, as they are still considered the caregivers of the family. Caring for children and partners put their own mental health by the wayside and the issues are coming out now as people try to resume their lives.
Rita Chahal, executive director of Mood Disorders Association of Manitoba, agreed with Goldstone’s assessment that the pandemic had a greater impact on women and children. Speaking anecdotally, she said she heard from a lot of women who put their own well-being aside to care for others. It’s important these women care for themselves as well so if they can help others, it won’t drain them physically or mentally.
But there is a silver lining to the pandemic, she said. What was once a very stigmatized topic is now being openly talked about.
"At least we are now having conversations about mental well-being and recognizing that mental health is just as important as physical health because they are interconnected," said Chahal.
To find our more, or make a donation, contact the Mood Disorders Association at mooddisordersmanitoba.ca
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