More Than a Rodeo: Mental Health and the Calgary Stampede


A Time of Celebration and Challenges

The Calgary Stampede is more than a rodeo. It’s a time when our city comes alive, a celebration that draws locals and visitors into a whirlwind of excitement and western tradition. But amidst the music, laughter, and spectacle, there’s an aspect of our well-being we can’t afford to overlook: our mental health. The Stampede, with its vibrant atmosphere, is a time of celebration, but it can take a toll on well-being if we are not equipped with the tools to navigate the risks that go along with the revelry.

The Current Landscape

This year, the Stampede is set against a backdrop of significant challenges. Financial hardship is a reality for many Calgarians, the housing crisis is deepening, and for many, struggles to maintain mental wellness are increasing. Challenges like these can make the Stampede’s festivities feel overwhelming.

“The Stampede is not only a time of celebration and camaraderie but also a period when stress and anxiety can escalate.”

Protecting Our Mental Health

At the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) Calgary, we know that community supports and mental health awareness make a difference. The hustle and bustle of Stampede events can be both exhilarating and exhausting. It’s easy to feel pressured to join every event and socialize constantly. Taking a step back is okay if you feel overwhelmed or anxious. Maintain healthy routines that include exercise, regular sleep, and quiet time to recharge amidst the round of celebrations.

Mindful Choices and Moderation

Be mindful of your choices. The festive atmosphere might tempt us to overindulge in alcohol or other substances, which can exacerbate mental health issues. Moderation is key, and seeking help if you’re struggling is a sign of strength.

“Your mental health is paramount, and it’s okay to say no.”

Managing Stress and Anxiety

Stampede season can intensify feelings of stress. The emphasis on socializing can be debilitating for those who struggle with social anxiety. It’s okay to set boundaries and prioritize your well-being. Consider attending smaller events or enjoying quiet activities if large crowds aren’t your thing.

Financial Stress and Enjoying the Stampede

Financial stress can significantly impact mental health, leading to anxiety and depression. During the Stampede, this stress might be exacerbated by the pressure to overspend on costly events, western finery, and midway rides. Enjoying the Stampede doesn’t have to be expensive. Planning ahead and taking advantage of promotions, coupons, free admissions, and community activities can allow you and your family to enjoy Stampede spirit without overspending.

“Planning ahead and taking advantage of promotions, coupons, free admissions, and community activities can allow you and your family to enjoy Stampede spirit without overspending.”

Addressing Community Challenges

The influx of visitors and locals celebrating the Stampede across the city puts added pressure on our systems and infrastructure. Congested public areas and bustling Stampede venues add pressure to those experiencing homelessness in Calgary, many of whom already struggle to find safe places to meet their basic needs. Our city faces the severe impacts of opioid poisoning and the escalating housing crisis. Please know that first responders and community agencies are devoting focused attention to protecting individual and community safety throughout the Stampede. If you encounter someone experiencing a mental health or addiction crisis, please contact 211 for connection to appropriate services. Emergency situations should always be reported by calling 911.

Community Support

Community support is a powerful tool, especially during the Stampede. This celebration of togetherness can extend to looking out for one another. Check in with friends and family, offer a listening ear, and encourage those around you to take care of their mental well-being.

“Community support is a powerful tool, especially during the Stampede.”

CMHA Calgary is Here for You

At CMHA Calgary, we’re here for you. We offer a wide range of services, from support groups and community navigation to resources designed to help with addiction and mental health challenges. You’re not alone in this journey, and we’re here to support you every step of the way.

Happy, Healthy Stampede 2024 to all!

Helpful Mental Health Resources during Stampede and Throughout the Year

CMHA Calgary Peer Support Services:
Our Peer Support service provides the opportunity for anyone – individual, family member, or professional – to speak with someone with lived experiences of mental health or substance use concerns.

CMHA-Calgary Recovery College Virtual Courses:
Recovery College Calgary
Free virtual and in-person mental health literacy and discussion groups that help individuals develop their own resourcefulness, foster independence, and build coping strategies to assist in the mental health and addiction recovery process.

Counseling Alberta:
Counseling Alberta
Affordable, no-waitlist counseling for all Albertans. Register online or by calling 833-827-4230.

KickStand Connect:
Free virtual mental health and substance use counseling, peer support, and employment services for young Albertans aged 12-25.

9-8-8 Suicide Crisis Line:
Get Help | 9-8-8: Suicide Crisis Helpline
Provides individuals the option to call or text to receive support.

Distress Centre Crisis Line:
Call 403-266-4357
Distress Centre Calgary provides 24-hour crisis support, professional counseling, youth peer support, and navigation and referrals through 211 and Coordinated Entry.

Community Connect YYC:
Community Connect YYC
Connecting Calgary’s communities with affordable and barrier-free access to in-person, phone, or video counseling sessions.

For community, social, health, and government services.

Kids Help Phone:
Call 1-800-668-6868 for free, confidential support for youth.