Words by Eric Riehl. Phots by Nikki Wesley.
The mission of Distress Centre Oakville’s annual walk is simple — to defeat depression.
“We decided to adopt this annual fundraising event as it provides us with a opportunity to bring awareness to mental health with a focus on our services,” Craig Redick, executive director of the local Distress Centre, told the Oakville Beaver.
“It allows us a chance to bring people together in light of stigma reduction and building engagement in the work we do. It is our only annual event.”
For more than 42 years, Distress Centre Oakville has been assisting people in Oakville and the surrounding area with mental health and other issues through a telephone support line.
The service is available to anyone in crisis every day of the week, at all hours.
It also provides online support through Crisis Chat/Text — a feature that lets individuals connect in real time with a Crisis Chat volunteer, one-on-one, from a computer or smartphone.
“Distress Centre (Oakville) is a non-profit charitable organization that has supported people in our community to better cope with crisis, loneliness and emotional stress,” said Redick.
“We don’t receive government funding and rely fully on the support of our community, the United Way and our caring volunteer team to provide services to people all across Halton Region.”
Not only are the funds raised essential to Distress Centre Oakville, noted Redick, but participating in the event symbolizes people have made “a commitment to help us reduce the stigma around talking about mental health, a core value of Distress Centre.”
The second annual Oakville Defeat Depression Walk takes place Saturday, May 14 at Lions Valley Park, 2417 Fourth Line.
Registration opens at 8:30 a.m., followed by the walk at 10 a.m.
This year’s goal is to raise $25,000 — and as of May 3, the organization had reached 35 per cent of its goal. Last year’s inaugural event raised approximately $18,000.
Funds from the walk go directly to supporting the Distress Centre Oakville’s services.
Last year alone, the centre offered emotional support more than 15,000 times to Halton residents, who needed someone to talk to through its free, accessible and confidential phone, chat and text services, according to Redick.
“Our team of between 80-100 caring and well-trained volunteers are available to anyone, at any time, for any reason. Volunteers provide non-judgemental listening supports to help people cope with feelings of crisis, loneliness and emotional stress,” he continued.
“We are an active contributor in the continuum of supports for mental well-being and an integral part of suicide prevention.”
While between 60-70 people took part in last year’s walk, Redick said he hopes next Saturday’s event will see 100-120 people take part, registering as either an individual or team.
“We hope participants will feel good about supporting something essential to everyone in our community — mental well-being,” he continued.
“We also hope people will reflect on the theme of defeating depression as being about people getting active and coming together as a community to talk in support each other in an open, non-judgmental space.
“(While people) enjoy the views at Lions Valley Heritage Trail with family, friends and pets, we hope they associate the positive feelings of community and fresh, spring air in a natural space with the feeling we attempt to create at the Distress Centre when someone calls us for support,” Redick added.
Anyone interested in registering for the walk, donating to the cause or volunteering for the event can visit https://goo.gl/RztlU4.