04/20/2016 05:16 EDT | Updated 04/21/2017 05:12 EDT

I'm Paying It Forward By Running For Women's Mental Health


This month I take a departure from my usual wine article to write about something else that has become near and dear to my heart -- Women's Mental Health. 15 cities across Canada will host the fourth annual Shoppers Drug Mart Run For WOMEN, the first and only national run (or walk) benefiting Women's and Girls' Mental Health programs.

For each 5K and 10K walk or run, Shoppers Drug Mart donates $10 from each registration. On top of that, 100 per cent of each participant's donations and pledges go to women's mental health programs in their city.

In Ottawa our donations will go to The Royal Women's Mental Health Centre. To date, the run has raised over $150K in Ottawa and 2015 had just under 1,500 participants. Organizers have set a healthy goal of 2,500 runners and walkers for 2016. Currently the registration in Ottawa is just under 1,200 participants and going strong.

Women are three times more likely to suffer periods of mental illness than men. The onset of menstruation, pregnancy and menopause are factors in the pronunciation and expression of mental illness.

Anxiety and depression is more prevalent in women than men, women experience 90 per cent of eating disorders and Schizophrenia manifests itself differently in women than men.

The result can sometimes lead to death, but mostly victims suffer in silence unable to lead their best life. Mental illness can interfere with everyday living such as parenting, work, eating, personal hygiene, decision making and school. Here's where I come in.

I'm a runner and I've participated in this event with my girlfriends. I've also suffered postpartum depression and anxiety. Running, family and medication have helped me tremendously, and I'm always looking for ways to pay it forward.

In January I was recruited through the Running Room in Ottawa to get local high school girls involved in the Run For Women with a six-week program called Run For It. Their goal is to cross the finish line at the Run For Women strong and proud. The six-week schedule is based on the Running Room's Learn To Run clinic, but it also encourages good nutrition, fitness, moral support, mental health dialogue, goal-setting and building friendships. Early intervention is the key in treating youths with mental health issues.


Me and the girls Run For Women 2015. I obviously didn't get the "you must wear the T-shirt" memo.

I'm happy to report that here in Ottawa we have six high schools participating in Run For It. That's double the 2015 total and considering we got the ball rolling a little late I am thrilled. We have enthusiastic teachers and students and I can't wait to see them all cross the finish line with more than a few tears shed.

It also happens to be Mother's Day and I can't think of a better mother-daughter outing. The proceeds from the Shoppers Run For Women ensures care and on-going programs now and for the future. Men are welcome to run and there's a 1K Little Steps for those 12 and under.

Signs of Mental Illness in Youth from The Royal Ottawa

Parents, teachers and friends are usually the first to recognize that an adolescent may be having significant problems with emotions or behaviour. The Canadian Psychiatric Society offers the following signs to look for in your teen, student, brother, sister, classmate or friend that may indicate that a psychiatric evaluation would be useful:

  • Marked drop in school performance or increase in absenteeism
  • Excessive use of alcohol and/or drugs; marked changes in sleeping and/or eating habits
  • Numerous physical complaints (headaches, stomach aches); aggressive or non-aggressive consistent violations of rights of others: opposition to authority, truancy, thefts, vandalism, etc.
  • Withdrawal from friends, family, and regular activities
  • Depression shown by sustained, prolonged negative mood and attitude, often accompanied by poor appetite, difficulty sleeping or thoughts of death
  • Frequent outbursts of anger and rage
  • Low energy level, poor concentration, complaints of boredom
  • Loss of enjoyment in what used to be favourite activities
  • Unusual neglect of personal appearance
  • Intense fear of becoming obese with no relationship to actual body weight
  • Intense fear of becoming obese with no relationship to actual body weight
  • Uncharacteristic delinquent, thrill-seeking or promiscuous behaviour
  • Marked personality change or bizarre behaviour
  • Comments about "feeling rotten inside," wanting to "end things" and hoping to "no longer be a problem for others."

The Shoppers Drug Mart Run For Women takes place Sunday May 8, 2016 across Canada.

Click on the 15 Cities link above for the city closest to you or consider a donation.

Mental health matters to me, and it should to you, too. I look forward to updating you on the success of our Run For It high school teams at the start and finish line.

Until next time... wine * food * run

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