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Ride Don’t Hide shines light on mental illness
Monique Godby has been there, done that and has the Ride Don’t Hide T-shirt to prove it.
Sporting the bright red top she received last year, Godby joined a number of others recently at Unity House to promote the 2014 version of the fundraising and awareness event which takes place June 22.
“I’m someone that has a mental illness and it’s very, very challenging for me,” said Godby during the kickoff celebration.
“Each person with a mental illness is affected differently, and on that note, let’s get more people to join Ride Don’t Hide.”
In last year’s first ride in support of the South Okanagan Similkameen branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association, sponsored in large part by Shopper’s Drug Mart, the nearly 50 riders brought in $14,000.
Similar events are being held in 19 communities across Canada on that day, largely in support of women and their families.
According to executive director Dennis Tottenham of the local CMHA branch, it can be especially difficult for single-parent families where coping mechanisms can be stretched to the breaking point.
He added not being aware of where to get help only compounds the problems.
“A lot of them don’t know about the services or because of the stigma they don’t come forward and continue to suffer in silence,” he said.
In Godby’s case, she admitted it took a long time for her to come out of “hiding” but the relief and the healing she experienced as a result was worth it.
“Hiding it always makes things worse so I smile and say: ‘This is who I am and I’m not going to hide any more,’” she said.
“Mental illness is part of my life, it is who I am but it’s not going to be my whole life.”
Godby added everyday can be a struggle and a challenge but continues to focus on the positive and draws support from the resources available.
Among the local services the money helps support is a seven-day-a-week meals program, advocacy to access community services, a variety of grants including recreation and education, housing support, wellness support (Unity Clubhouse) and public education.
Unity provides a safe, non-threatening environment for those with a mental illness and the housing support assists 44 residents achieve independence and stay out of the hospital.
“This (ride) is a community coming together and making a statement that mental health and wellness is important to everyone,” said Tottenham.
“They’re people just like everyone else. They have a health issue but it just happens to be a mental health issue as opposed to a chronic disease.
“They need treatment, they need counselling and sometimes they need medication the same as if you have cancer or diabetes.
“It’s no different and it shouldn’t be any different.”
This year it is hoped to have 150 participants in the ride along the KVR Trail.
Registration is at 8 a.m. at KVR Middle School. The 40-kilometre ride starts at 8:30 a.m. and the 10K and 20K events begin at 9:15 a.m.
For more information, call (250) 493-8999 or www.ridedonthide.com.