It can be as simple as saying I’m a mother and that’s why I run for youth mental health or that I’m a caring person that doesn’t want to see people suffer. It’s deeper though and involves both the above.

I was diagnosed with depression at the age of 31. I was already a mother at that point and I had a great support system involving my daughter and my sister and her family. I am lucky enough to say I wasn’t scared to get the help I needed and knew where to go and who could help. But horribly that’s not the case for the majority of people that suffer with mental health issues. It’s a scary dark place and society’s ignorance and lack of acceptance isn’t helping the matter.

Nine years later and my daughter is now 16 with friends that are suffering and she sees the stigma that’s attached and the hardships it’s creating for her friends and their families. I feel that no one should suffer in silence and that everyone can play a huge part in ending the stigma associated.

Our children are our future and we need to help them and their families get through rough dark patches in life and be the light not the source of continued darkness. Seeing the trauma my daughters friend has gone through is heart breaking. Knowing that such a beautiful person inside and out can be so haunted is difficult but knowing she can get help is what pulls us through. Knowing I can help spread the word and raising awareness and funds is rewarding to me and my daughter. I never want my daughter or my son to think they couldn’t get help if needed and I want them to know I can be their support and that there is nothing wrong with seeking help or asking for guidance. I want them to know that they are not alone.

The numbers are staggering! 20% of Canadian youth will personally experience a mental illness in their lifetime. Mental illness affects people of all ages, educational and income levels. Approximately 8% of adults will experience major depression at some time in their lives, 1% of Canadians will experience bipolar disorder. Schizophrenia affects 1% of the Canadian population. Anxiety disorders affect 5% of the household population, causing mild to severe impairment.

Suicide accounts for 24% of all deaths among 15-24 year olds and 16% among 25-44 year olds. Suicide is one of the leading causes of death in both men and women from adolescence to middle age. The mortality rate due to suicide among men is four times the rate among women.

See the problem….let’s all help to be the solution. This is how and why I run and will continue to be part of the solution.

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Sandi Swan

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