Shoppers Drug Mart in Carleton Place is actively trying to lessen the stigma that surrounds mental illnesses by running in the 2017 Shoppers Drug Mart Run for Women on May 7.
“As a pharmacist I see a lot of stigma associated with mental health and the run helps lessen it because it creates awareness and raises money,” said the pharmacy owner, Myron Li, who has run for the cause since 2013.
There are races in 15 different cities across Canada to support various women’s mental health programs. So far five employees at Shoppers Drug Mart in Carleton Place are registered to run. The proceeds from the local run, which has five and 10 kilometre distances, will go towards women’s mental health programs at The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre.
“It’s important for the community to see us dedicating time outside the store,” said Li who will run five kilometres in May. “I’m looking forward to having fun with the team, supporting the community and supporting women.”
Li said the store manager, Greg Hoare, is committed to running 10 kilometres.
Courtney Schmidt is in her fifth year working as a pharmacy assistant at Shoppers Drug Mart. She says she was diagnosed with mental health issues as a teenager. “I have felt the stigma, especially in high school when people didn’t talk about mental health as much,” said Schmidt. “My parents encouraged me to seek help and talk to someone.” This will be Schmidt’s third year walking five kilometres with her mom by her side.
Studies indicate that women are three times more likely to suffer from depression than men and one in four women will experience some form of depression in their lifetime. Schmidt said she is proud to work for a pharmacy that focuses specifically on women’s mental health as much as it does on physical health.
“Regardless of diagnosis, you should be able to talk to any member of the [pharmacy] team with privacy, no judgment and no fear,” Schmidt said. “Everybody has a story and no one is here to judge.”
For Cindy Shields, a merchandiser at Shoppers Drug Mart, running for the cause “shows people with mental health there is a community that cares about them and supports them.”
Shields has worked at Shoppers Drug Mart in Carleton Place for about a year and a half. She is running five kilometres in May because she has lots of female friends who suffer from mental health, some of whom have stayed at The Royal.
“The run shows people with mental health that there is a community that cares about them and supports them,” Shields said, adding that she thinks people put their mental health on the back-burner too often. “I’m doing it for Courtney. It’s not only important to have supportive friends and family but also a supportive work community as well.”
Men and boys are encouraged to participate in the Run for Women to support their mothers, sisters, friends and wives. Anyone can register.
First appeared in the April issue of Hometown News