Mayor Colin Basran spoke at the SendOutSupport luncheon Wednesday as part of Bell Let’s Talk. - Credit: Carli Berry/Capital News

Community leaders learn about mental illness at Kelowna luncheon

"It's Ok to not be OK."

As technology advances, so do our ways of destigmatizing mental illness.

At a SendOutSupport luncheon in Kelowna Wednesday, members of the community gathered to speak about ending the stigma and as part of Bell Let’s Talk, an initiative designed to end the silence around mental illness.

SendOutSupport has an app which allows the person to create personalized strategies to cope with emotional, physical or health-related issues.

Margie Hibbard, the founder of the app, said she hosts an event each year as part of Bell Let’s Talk. She suffered from postpartum depression in 2013, which led to the app’s creation.

“For the past three years, I’ve hosted an event on Bell Let’s Talk Day because I really support the idea of talking about it and making it more commonplace,” she said.

Related: Let’s Talk money for Foundry Kelowna

The aim of the luncheon is to bring together the community.

“We were trying to get the leaders of the community to come hear the message and to learn the facts about mental illness, to debunk the myths and learn some language that they can use instead of commonplace language,” said Hibbard.

“At our event last year we actually had a city councillor from Penticton attend and he said specifically it helped him so much to understand that there’s so much going on for people… It opened his eyes to the fact if you can just engage with the person on a personal level, that is going to validate that person.”

The luncheon theme this year was introducing the ways technology aids to assisting mental illness and was the first in Kelowna, selling out 46 seats.

Mayor Colin Basran was also in attendance and said he believed mental illness stigma has moved out of the darkness and into the light.

Bell’s total donation to mental health programs stands at $86,504,429.05 (as of Wednesday afternoon) and this program is well on its way to donating at least $100 million through 2020.

“It’s OK to not be OK,” said Hibbard.

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