I saw a meme recently that caught my eye. It read: behind every strong person is a story that gave them no other choice. I love that. It speaks to me on so many levels but mostly on the level of mental health. That was our family eight years ago when our then 15-year-old child was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. So began a story of mental health in our family that has been at times heartbreaking and frightening but also inspiring. In the arena where we had no choice - mental illness is NOT a choice - we made the empowering choice to get involved in the journey and learn all we could.
That’s one of the reasons why when our family was invited to participate in an event called Mental Health Empowerment Day in 2017, we jumped at the chance. Now known as MHED, the annual event was the creation of Leanne Matlow, a good friend, educator and cognitive behavioural therapy counsellor who works primarily with children with anxiety.
It was Leanne’s dream to create a day where people came together to talk about mental health, to feel connected, and to work to eradicate stigma. Since that first event, held on a Sunday morning in Toronto in a local high school, MHED has grown and I remain involved in its mission. Over the years, we have created a body of work for which we are proud and that we believe has made a difference. Many experts have taught us, many people have shared their experiences.
This year we are showcasing the work of MindUP / The Goldie Hawn Foundation.
www.mindup.org is a not-for-profit organization founded by the Goldie Hawn Foundation to help children develop the knowledge and tools they need to strive in school and life. The evidence-based MindUP program was developed by a team of experts grounded upon four scientific pillars: neuroscience, mindful awareness, social-emotional learning (SEL) and positive psychology.
The event will feature keynote speaker, Dr. Jean M. Clinton, BMus, MD, FRCP(C), Clinical Professor McMaster University, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Neurosciences who will explain the science behind MindUP and their platform.
Every participant at the in-person event will receive a year-long membership to the MindUP for Life online platform and will be introduced to simple MindUP skills led by the Head of Education for MindUP, Dido Balla.
It will be held on Wednesday, October 19, 2022 at the Eglinton Grand Theatre, 400 Eglinton Avenue West in Toronto at 7:30 p.m. This year’s event is presented by www.projectgiveback.com. Admission is $20 and registration is required at www.mhed.ca
I think back to the early days of our journey and wish that I had known about MindUP. Those were the days when I often sat at my kitchen table wondering what to do and feeling alone. Maybe as you read these words you can relate; many families have their own story.
Let’s work to empower each other.