November 14, 2018

BY JOE WEPPLER

According to the World Health Organization, an estimated 350 million people across the world suffer from depression. It is also the leading cause of disability worldwide. Despite the fact that anxiety disorders such as depression are highly treatable, only about one-third of those suffering receive treatment.
To help combat this, Bell Media created the Let’s Talk initiative, with a focus on raising awareness and encouraging people to speak about mental health. The wildly successful Bell Let’s Talk Day generated over $6.1 million for mental health initiatives last year, and is posed to break that record this year on Jan. 27.

In honour of Let’s Talk, the Family Counselling Centre of Cambridge and North Dumfries is offering a free workshop that is designed to increase awareness about mental health. This workshop, hosted at 1 North Square in Cambridge by Idea Exchange, seeks to share some of the best methods to prevent and reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression.

“It’s important to talk about,” said Tina Runstedler, an employee of Idea Exchange, Cambridge’s city-wide library service.

“It’s vital that people understand that they’re not alone,” she said.

The event, titled Creative Coping, will run on Jan. 30, just three days after Bell Let’s Talk Day 2016.

“It’s absolutely something that anyone who even suspects they may suffer from an anxiety disorder or depression should get involved with,” said Rachael Bass, a student in the sustainable local food program through Conestoga.

“I suffered in silence for years before I finally went to a doctor,” she said.

Now 32, Bass was diagnosed with major depressive disorder when she was 26 years old. At that time, she was unemployed, lived by herself and had suicidal thoughts. Now, only six years later, Bass is married, has a two-year-old daughter, and is both working a full-time job and taking online schooling.

“I don’t know where I’d be if I didn’t get help,” she said.

According to Bass, hearing people talk about mental health is what pushed her to seek help.

“It’s something people need to talk about. The more people talk, the more it’s accepted, the more people will be pushed to get help. Events like Let’s Talk and Creative Coping aren’t just helpful. They could save lives,” she said.

To register for the Creative Coping workshop, call 519-621-0460. For more information, go to www.ideaexchange.org/programs. The event is free, and will run from 2 to 3 p.m. at the Queen’s Square branch of Cambridge Idea Exchange.

If you think you’re suffering from a mental health issue, don’t wait. Talk to those you love, and make an appointment with your doctor. You are not alone.

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