Pictured: The Distress Centre team at Outrun the Stigma 2019.

This year marked the 7th annual Outrun the Stigma, a walk/run in support of mental health awareness with a mission to decrease the stigma surrounding mental illness. The event, which took place on October 6th, raised over $24,000 for our ConnecTeen youth program. In total, Outrun the Stigma has raised over $196,000 for Distress Centre since 2013.

The money raised at this year’s event will ensure that our volunteers and staff can continue to provide 24/7 crisis and daily online peer support to youth in Calgary through our ConnecTeen program. In 2018, we supported 8000 online chats, texts, emails, and phone calls and approximately 30% were suicide related. On our adult crisis lines, that number is about 10%.  There is no question that today’s young people need our crisis support.

ConnecTeen Coordinator, Luke Robertson, spoke at Outrun, highlighting some of the struggles and challenges teens experience.

“There might be things we don’t remember about what it’s actually like to be a teenager,” Luke said to the crowd of Outrun participants and volunteers. “Like what it’s like to have to go to school every day, regardless of what it’s like for you at school, or how you’re treated by your peers. To realize that you do not agree with your parent’s values, and feel utterly powerless to do anything about it.  To be told by someone that your problems are not a big deal. Or to have someone tell you: ‘don’t worry, you’ll get over it.’”

Luke continued: “We forget how it feels to never really be taken seriously. And as adults, some of us, from time to time, might not take the young people in our lives seriously when they turn to us for support. I know there are times when I haven’t.”

At ConnecTeen, we give teenagers the skills they need to listen to and support their peers in the Calgary area, to remove as many barriers as possible for youth who need support.  We recognize that when young people need someone to talk to, they don’t always need an adult.  They need someone who relates to them and who will take them seriously.

“What can you do to support young people today?” Luke asked the audience. “Everyone here is already doing something.  We’re running, walking, and raising money to remove the barriers young people face when asking for help. Thank you!”

Emily Cox, Program Director for Outrun the Stigma Calgary, said that their team was pleased with how the event turned out this year. They were able to raise $5000 over their fundraising goal of $19,000 and almost 400 people participated.

“One of our biggest goals as an organization is to create a supportive community that helps to fight the stigma surrounding mental health,” Emily said. “And we were so excited to see so many participants and volunteers come out and support our cause.”

Distress Centre is very grateful to the Outrun organizing committee, volunteers, participants, funders and donors for making this year’s Outrun such an inspiring and successful event.