Promoting mental health, one step at a time

Darrell Cole
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Minds in Motion Walk raises awareness, removes stigma

The seventh Minds in Motion Walk was held in downtown Amherst on Wednesday in support of mental health awareness

Laura Coleman of the Cumberland YMCA leads Minds in Motion Walk participants in a stretch before hitting the streets to take part in the annual walk for mental health.

AMHERST – Each year, more people take to the streets of downtown Amherst to promote healthy minds and healthy bodies.

This year was even bigger with more than 100 people of all ages taking part in the seventh Minds in Motion Walk that started and finished at the Cumberland YMCA and included a walk along Church, Spring, Rupert and Victoria streets.

“We’re walking to raise awareness of mental health and we’re walking because it’s a good way to manage mental health,” Pam Chenhall of Cumberland Mental Health Services said before heading out for the annual walk. “We’re also walking because walking with a friend is a good way to connect with people.”

Chenhall said the walk gets bigger every year as more community partners join in. Last year, Amherst Regional High Schools participated in the walk for the first time and peer counsellors, social justice committee members and Students Against Destructive Decisions committee members again took part.

Also joining this year were staff and clients from the Bridge Adult Service Centre on Station Street while a number of other community partners participated including both municipal and RCMP representatives and others from the health-care field, Maggie’s Place and Addictions Services.

“It’s good to have a lot of diversity in participation because it shows we’re all walking in support of mental health awareness,” she said.

Chenhall said the community is becoming more aware of mental health issues and resources through events such as the walk, and she said Olympian Clara Hughes’ recent visit to Amherst will make people even more aware.

She also credited the community health boards for taking a big role in recruiting people to participate in the walk and she thanked the Town of Amherst for its continued support.

“We’ve really been fortunate to have some great new community partners come on board, while we have a great group of longtime partners who have helped make this the success it has become,” she said. “Our goal is to make this event bigger every year.”

She said one of the goals of the walk is to encourage mental health, but also to encourage people to talk openly about mental health and not to be afraid to reach out to family and friends about their issues.

“Clara Hughes has done a lot to promote that and we want to build on it so more and more people are talking about mental health,” she said.

Community health boards co-ordinator Colleen Dowe said the boards are focused on  health prevention and the walk only raises awareness of mental health issues, but physical activity is one way to treat and prevent it.

“Fitness and exercise makes a difference to our coping skills and how we deal with things like stress and mental health,” Dowe said.

Twitter: @ADNdarrell


Organizations: Cumberland Mental Health Services, Amherst Regional High Schools, Destructive Decisions committee Bridge Adult Service Centre RCMP Place and Addictions Services

Geographic location: AMHERST, Victoria

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