Community holds BBQ for Mental Illness Awareness Week

On Oct. 5, a community barbecue was held to recognize Mental Illness Awareness Week at Spirit Square in Fort St. James.

  • Oct. 12, 2016 2:00 p.m.
Greg Kovacs and Sandi Taylor.

Greg Kovacs and Sandi Taylor.

Barbara Latkowski

Caledonia Courier

On Oct. 5, a community barbecue was held to recognize Mental Illness Awareness Week at Spirit Square in Fort St. James.

Despite the cool wet weather, members of the community came out to support the cause with an event full of food, refreshments, speakers and Chinese lanterns for all to enjoy.

“We did this two years ago and we just want to keep it going,” Greg Kovacs said.

Kovacs, along with Sandi Taylor, both from Fort St. James, organized the event.

“This is to help raise awareness and reduce the stigma associated with mental illness,” Kovacs said.

For Taylor, it’s also about building community and reducing isolation.

And this is why three years ago, the couple decided to begin, “Healthy Minds Peer Support”.

“We wanted to do something,” Taylor said.

“I really believe in the power of peer support. People dealing with mental health issues or addiction are often isolated. So for us, it’s all about socialization, that was the motive,” Kovacs said.

And at the barbecue, people did socialize as they gathered together in recognition of mental illness within the community.

The “Healthy Minds Peer Support” groups are held every Monday at 7 p.m. at Stuart Lake Hospital in Fort St. James.

“There are so many services here that people don’t know about,” Kovacs said.

“We just want people to know that there is help right here.”

According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, if you have a mental health concern, speak with your doctor.

If you need direction in your work life or to would like to repair relationships with loved ones and friends, speak to a counsellor or attend a peer group.

For financial challenges, contact a financial planner or debt advisor.

Positive Mental Health Tips:

–          Talk to your doctor if you are experiencing problems in your mental health.

–          Check with your employer: many Employee Assistance Plans (EAPs) and benefit plans will provide access to counselling services.

–          Reach out to people you trust: personal connections are some of the most powerful healing tools for combatting depression.

–          Live well: a healthy lifestyle can boost your mood.

For more information about mental illness, visit: