I am so excited to be taking steps to get back to my childhood of serving and supporting the community I live in.The last few years I have struggled with how I could give back in a way that mattered when I couldn't commit time in the amount and with the consistency I really wanted to.
Then, as 2016 came to a close and I was spending time focusing on reflection in my business and personal life the pieces just seemed to fall into place. There was a way I could share my successes, that I could get involved with a cause that means so much to me, and that just felt right.
(If you missed the announcement go check out the post)
I am a little overwhelmed with the supportive response I have received already since the announcement but some questions keep coming up...
1) Why did you choose to support mental health?
2) Which organizations in particular are you supporting?
So, if you are curious too let's dive in!
1) Why did you choose to support mental health organizations in London & beyond?
Not long after my daughter was born I was diagnosed with an Anxiety Disorder. There was no major event leading up to the diagnosis. No massive panic attacks, no episodes of hiding from the world crying...it was just life as usual as far as I knew but someone recognized things might be the norm for me but there might be something more to it. I will never be able to thank Kay, my college program coordinator, enough for recommending I go for learning disability testing.
I went through what seemed like a million hours of testing (I think it was actually only 8 hours) and came out thinking “I’m going to look stupid, what was I thinking - there’s nothing wrong with me I’m just a lazy procrastinator and too sensitive to everything”
I still remember sitting in the office waiting for the results a few weeks later. There was a huge lump in my throat, I couldn’t sit still, I felt like I was on fire from the inside. One of the people who had tested me walked in, a smile on her face, and told me we had some things to discuss. I wasn’t just silly for thinking I didn’t do things or learn like other people - I had a reason. I have learning difficulties and a general anxiety disorder.
At first I didn’t know how to react. What does this mean? Am I going to be able to finish college? Does this mean I’m going to fail? Do I have to go to a special school?
I cannot even begin to express the sense of relief that washed over me in the next few minutes. The woman came around the desk, sat down next to me and said ‘don’t worry - we have a plan to help’. We spent the next few minutes going over exactly where my learning difficulties and anxiety were, what they meant, and what could be done to support me so I could continue on in my program just like everyone else.
2) Which organizations are you supporting?
Canadian Mental Health Association
The CMHA is a great resource for information and has been working to reduce the stigma around mental health while increasing the availability of services for all ages throughout Canada.
Current stats suggest 1 in every 5 people struggle with mental illness. Look at you facebook friends list - how many of your friends and family may be struggling but too afraid of being judged to speak up and ask for the support they need?
Vanier Family Services
This is one of the first places that was able to respond and to offer support when my daughter began to struggle with her self image an more.
It wasn't until we were there talking to a member of the team that I really realized the range of mental health services they offered to children and families.