Stanley Fraser is spreading mental health awareness, one step at a time.
Fraser, of Chetwynd, is on a Walk and Talk from Bella Coola to Winnipeg, about 2,700 kilometres. He hopes to raise awareness, he said, by “talking to people, getting people to talk about it, getting people to discuss their mental health problems and not be ashamed of it.”
Fraser, who started his walk on May 30, came through 100 Mile House last Friday, after walking about 600 kilometres, and stopped in Clearwater for a quick break a few days later. He will continue his journey on Friday, June 24, stopping at Mount Robson and crossing the border to Jasper. He plans to reach Winnipeg around Aug. 17.
“My logo is ‘silence is not a solution; let your voice be heard.’ That’s what I want people to start doing, is talking about it. Getting people to discuss, what is bothering you? What is the issue? Not to be so ashamed or so embarrassed by it. Silence is just not an answer anymore,” Fraser said.
Fraser, who has done multiple walks since 2016, said he decided to do the walk after suffering mental health issues such as depression. The more he talked to people about it, he also started to hear from people who were suffering in silence.
“I chose a path that had to do with alcohol and drugs and because I didn’t know how to handle it, my daughter suffers from depression and anxiety,” he said.
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“The end result of mental health is not good. And I saw too much of it. I heard too much of it. So I’m trying to bring this on, in a forefront (where) people are comfortable talking about it.”
Fraser said many people don’t want to talk about their mental health issues for fear of others making fun of them or giving bad advice. He said people are often told to “just get over it” or “think happy thoughts.”
“If you think it’s that easy, come and walk with me for a couple days where you can’t just give up,” Fraser said.
Fraser usually walks between 35 and 40 kilometres a day.
“Walking is a lot like mental health, (it) is a lot like depression,” Fraser said. “Sometimes the only way to get through it is one step at a time.”
Fraser is encouraging people to follow him on Walk and Talk – Bella Coola to Winnipeg on Facebook or their website, www.walkandtalk4mh.com. They also sell t-shirts and accept donations. The group is affiliated with the non-profit organization, Tansi Friendship Centre.
“The more people who go on Facebook, the more energy I have because it just goes to prove that there are more and more out there that know exactly what I’m doing, and that’s my gas,” Fraser said. “That’s my fuel. That’s my energy.
“Just keep on cheering us on. I’d like to have 2,700 followers by the time I’m done, so share away.”
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