Note: The following post is written by Iain Stewart, CEO at Genesis Land Development Corporation, and an Energize Don’t Hide 2021 Challenge participant.
Mental health issues have been a long-time concern of mine. As a previous participant in the Ride Don’t Hide fundraiser, I am well aware of the Canadian Mental Health Association – Calgary Region’s annual event.
At the invitation of Curtis Stange, CEO of Alberta Treasury Branches, I first participated in 2019 in, what is now Canada’s largest mental health bike ride.
This year, because of COVID-19, the event has been turned into Energize Don’t Hide – a two month long mental health and physical wellness challenge between May 3 and June 30.
After many conversations with team members surrounding the growing mental health issues in the greater Calgary community, and in need of a corporate team-builder, the Genesis Health and Wellness committee chose the Energize Don’t Hide campaign as a good cause to support.
The event this year is of particular importance due to heightened mental health concerns, particularly the fear and isolation brought on by the pandemic and responses to it. In addition, with many staff working remotely, Genesis has used this event as a team builder.
The response has blown away all expectations with 75 percent of staff participating, along with nine business partner groups who have entered teams. We’ve long surpassed our initial goals, exceeding our targets for the number of activity minutes and dollars raised during the first half of the campaign, and we still have another month to go.
This level of participation is encouraging and energizing. I am grateful to all who have taken the opportunity to raise money for CMHA Calgary, and for also increasing their level of activity, and being just a little bit healthier.
Personally, over the last decade, I went from being out-of-shape to completing my first triathlon in 2014 and my first Ironman in 2017. I am currently active and training for another Ironman triathlon this fall. My training is beneficial both physically and mentally. It helps keep me focused and settles down my mind, putting life into perspective. I also enjoy the challenge.
We are hearing stories every day about the toll the pandemic is taking on people’s mental and physical well-being. Addressing the pandemic has taken our focus away from mental health issues across the country—the opioid and overdose crises is happening in tandem with the pandemic, killing people at record rates. And the toll COVID-19 has taken on our seniors and our children, who both need social stimulation and to be around people, is significant.
Children need to play and study with other children. Instead, they have been socially and physically isolated for more than a year, facing school closures, cancelled sports events, and restricted opportunities for recreational activities.
The impact is showing up everywhere, which most have us have experienced either first-hand or through family, friends and neighbours.
Please join me in this challenge to support access to mental health at a time when demand for CMHA Calgary’s resources has greatly escalated. Challenge yourself, challenge your friends and challenge your loved ones.
Let’s get going together.
CEO at Genesis Land Development Corporation
Our Peer Support program services can be accessed over the phone at 403-297-1402 or through email at firstname.lastname@example.org. We have teamed up with other Calgary agencies to help Calgarians quickly and easily access various counselling and social supports. Visit www.communityconnectyyc.ca, where you can book online for our Suicide Bereavement and Family Support Counselling, and other supports. If you prefer to still book through us, please phone (403-297-1708), or email (email@example.com).