Local events set for Mental Health Week

Heather Latter

The Fort Frances branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association, along with other partners as well as a local group called Am-Pm Health (Artists Musicians-Promote Mental Health), are planning events in conjunction with Mental Health Week (May 7-13).
The first is a presentation on Tuesday (May 8) by Dr. Michael Evans, whose lecture,“23 and 1/2 Hours: What is the single best thing we can do for our health,” has hit nearly 2.5 million views on YouTube.
Presented in co-operation with the local CMHA, Sunset Country Psychiatric Survivors, Fort Frances Community Clinic, Inc. Family Health Team, and Riverside Health Care Facilities, Inc., Dr. Evans is a family doctor and professor at the University of Toronto.
“We’re really excited to be able to bring Dr. Evans to the Fort Frances community,” enthused Sandy Skirten, director of services for the local CMHA branch.
“It’s something that I think affects everybody,” he noted.
“He’s going to be talking about all different aspects of health, from your mental health to your blood pressure . . . and how everything can be effected by just a little bit of exercise.”
Skirten said Dr. Evans has a refreshingly down-to-earth style which makes his presentation enjoyable and informative.
Dr. Evans has a keen interest in preventive medicine and encourages people to take initiatives in their own self-care.
“I’m going to reflect on how [the lecture has] become the biggest evidence-based health YouTube video ever, so I’m going to talk a little bit about that experience and our plans for the future,” noted Dr. Evans in a phone interview yesterday, citing several reasons for the video’s success.
“I think there’s something about the visual learn that appeals to people,” he said. “And I don’t just tell them what to do, I tell them why.”
Taking place at 7 p.m. at the Townshend Theatre, Skirten said organizers are anticipating a full house for the event and that people should get their tickets as soon as possible.
They cost $5 each, which are available at the CMHA’s office at 414 Scott St.
Prior to Dr. Evans’ session, a Health and Wellness Fair will get underway at 6 p.m.
“There will be a number of booths set up, with door prizes,” explained Skirten.
“We’ll have coffee for people, so they can mingle [and] see what services are available in our community,” he added.
A second event, although not directly affiliated with the CMHA, is being planned for Wednesday (May 9) at the Sunset Country Métis Hall here.
Dave Ashworth, of the Am-Pm Health group, said it will be a mental health workshop and coffeehouse-style concert with artists and musicians promoting mental health.
“We’ll play songs and intertwine some mental health issues, personal and public,” he explained, noting people might want to give a little talk or read a poem—anything is fine as long as it promotes mental health or health.
“We just want to try to raise awareness [for mental health] and take away some of the stigma,” Ashworth reasoned.
“We’re not restricting it to mental health, but health in general, so even bullying, drug use, alcoholism, etc., because I think it’s really important to look at it holistically.”
Ashworth said he and Doug Cridland participated in a similar event in March in Red Deer, Alta., along with musician Don Swift, who was releasing his single, “Where You Go.”
“It was very well-received and an emotional night,” Ashworth recalled, adding they thought it would be beneficial to hold an event locally.
“It’s a little bit different approach using music and the arts,” he admitted. “And there will probably be people speaking about children’s mental health all the way up to golden year mental health.”
Ashworth is looking for other performers, speakers, musicians, dancers, and singers who would like to participate.
Members of the public also will be encourage to come out and listen.
There is no admission charge but a freewill offering will be accepted, with proceeds going towards the CMHA.
As well, Ashworth said anyone interested in helping out by volunteering, or offering donations or prizes, certainly would be welcomed.
More information can be found on the group’s Facebook page (search Artists Musicians-Promote Mental Health) or by contacting Ashworth via e-mail at daverichashworth@gmail.com
“We’re hoping this will be more of many events to come,” he added.