Oct 22, 2014 – 9:54 PM EDT
Last Updated: Oct 22, 2014 – 10:39 PM EDT
A group of 10 local basketball buddies have come together to help shake the stigma of mental illness and raise money for the Maryvale Mental Health Centre.
The Stigma Enigma campaign was officially launched Wednesday in the Maryvale complex on Wells Street in West Windsor.
“Unfortunately there is still a lot of stigma around mental illness,” said Dr. Pat Smith, one of the organizers of the campaign.
“Every three minutes someone in the world is dying by suicide.”
Provincial funding for mental health providers such as Maryvale has been dropping in recent years and the group was formed to help fill the funding gap.
They are holding a pair of events to kick off the initiative.
The first will be Mingle for Maryvale at the Walkerville Brewery on Nov. 8, which is described as an elegant soiree with live music, a silent auction, delicious food and Walkerville beers.
Tickets are $150 and are available by calling 519-819-1119 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
The second event will be a basketball tournament drawing teams from across the province and a banquet at the Caboto Club on Nov. 28.
Former Detroit Lions quarterback Eric Hipple, whose own son committed suicide at the age of 15, will speak at the banquet.
Smith said that as a family physician he sees first-hand the impact that mental illness, and failing to deal with it because of societal stigma, has.
“Mental illness is far more common than one might expect,” said Smith.
“It is also exceedingly complex, and requires extensive resources and time to treat it properly. It deserves all the attention we can give it.”
Smith said he also lost an 18-year-old niece and 24-year-old nephew to suicide in the past year.
“Sophie and Geoff were both athletic, intelligent, beautiful young people from an excellent family,” said Smith.
All of the group’s fundraising efforts will go to Maryvale, which is the primary provider of mental health care for local adolescents between 13 and 18 years of age.