Thornale resident Ravi Gupta founded the Hike for Happiness mental health fundraiser three years ago to get people talking about mental illness and to help remove the stigma. Since then, the annual event has raised over $26,000 for mental health initiatives and programs. This year’s event, which took place May 29, raised over $14,000 for Missions Services London’s Community Mental Health Programs.
“The money will be used to help homeless and at risk people to attend their mental health appointments and to offer seminars to help them learn about and cope with their mental illness,” said Gupta’s wife Beth Jones, in an email to the Independent. “This year’s Hike was in memory of Monica Hoodless who took her own life last fall. She was a daughter, a sister, a mother, a grandmother, a great grandmother. She struggled with mental illness all of her life. The hope is that removing the stigma attached to mental illness – no one will have to lose a family member again to mental illness.”
One in five Canadians will suffer from a mental illness at some point in their lives, and nearly 50 percent of homeless self-identify as suffering from a mental illness. “Coping with a mental illness is hard for anyone but imagine trying to cope with that problem while homeless,” said Jones, explaining the importance of the work done by Missions Services London’s Community Mental Health Programs.
For more information about the Hike, go to HikeforHappiness.ca or find them on Facebook.