With the goal of supporting the growth and development of vital mental health programming, on May 26th, 2022 the Stigma-Free Society hosted the “Stigma-Free Faces Fundraiser.” The event featured inspiring videos and livestream interviews with diverse community members who have lived experience of mental health challenges and are advocating to stomp out stigma and discrimination in its various forms.
With a total of $107,220 raised, the funds will support Stigma-Free educational activities across Canada, the development of a peer support network for rural communities, and the provision of accessible mental health information, tools and resources for teachers, parents, and all Canadians. Stigma-Free Society President and Co-Founder Andrea Paquette affirms, “The fundraiser was a great success and a demonstration of increasing community support as we nearly tripled last year’s earnings. We are excited to move forward with the funding and continue to develop and deliver our programs to reach as many people as possible with mental health education and rural peer support training. As the Society scales nationally, the funding will help the Society deliver more school virtual presentations across Canada and to let people know there is always hope and always help.”
A Canadian registered charity since 2010, the Stigma-Free Society provides educational toolkit resources, strategies and toolkits for teachers, mental health professionals, caregivers and youth organizations. These vital tools raise awareness about how to discuss and support those experiencing mental health challenges. Around 3,000 people view and use our Student Mental Health Toolkit every month, totalling over 25,000 visitors since we first launched in Fall 2021. Over 8,500 young people will receive a Stigma-Free Presentation in their classroom this year. These unique and engaging school presentations are led by Stigma-Free Society presenters who virtually share their personal stories and offer knowledge on the topic of mental health and stigma.
The Stigma-Free Society has also ambitiously expanded to support rural and agricultural communities across Canada, a segment of the Canadian population afflicted with some of the nation’s highest rates of depression and suicide. Our Rural Mental Wellness Toolkit has brought education and hope to over 6,000 people in remote communities across Canada since its inception in Spring 2021. The funds raised will also support rural residents’ peer support training and virtual awareness events which are used to promote mental wellness among farmers, families and others in agricultural communities. “Our Rural Mental Wellness Toolkit has helped thousands since it was launched last year, and we intend to reach more as we grow nationally” says Stigma Free Society President Andrea Paquette.
The fundraiser highlighted community members courageously sharing personal mental health journeys and experiences of stigma, including messages of hope from Gerry Friesen, “The Recovering Farmer”, and others in the rural community. Additional guests of the fundraiser included Bruce and Geoff Courtnall of the Courtnall for Mental Health Society, Matthew Chow, TELUS’ Chief Mental Health Officer, Bruce Williams, CEO of the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce, and Maria Weaver, Manager of Regional Suicide Prevention at the Canadian Mental Health Association. Stigma-Free Society Chair and Co-Founder David Richardson shared a welcome message and was featured in a video sharing his compelling personal mental health journey. Andrea Paquette, President of the Stigma-Free Society, hosted a livestream event and answered questions about the Society and the incredible impact that programs have had in the lives of countless individuals.
We are so grateful to our community for your generous support in helping us provide mental health resources, education and hope across Canada. Special thanks to the Otsuka-Lundbeck Alliance for the kick-off donation and to the Dave Richardson Family Foundation for matching $50,000 in donations.
You can learn more about the Stigma Free Society and this fundraising campaign HERE.
Donations remain open, so you can still donate directly HERE.