Breakfast raises funds for mental health clinics in Edmonton

Former NHL player Kelly Hrudey and his daughter Kaitlin speak about Kaitlin's struggle with mental health during The Mental Health Foundation Breakfast, Wednesday, September 25, 2013.
Former NHL player Kelly Hrudey and his daughter Kaitlin speak about Kaitlin's struggle with mental health during The Mental Health Foundation Breakfast, Wednesday, September 25, 2013. Jenna Bridges, Global News

EDMONTON – The Mental Health Foundation raised $265,000 at the 2013 Mental Health Break-fast in Edmonton on Wednesday.

The breakfast is one of the main fundraisers for the Mental Health Foundation. 

“We’re trying to raise over a million dollars over the next five years to try to increase the number of community-based clinics, and I think we did a pretty good job today,” said Ben Horcica, chair of the Mental Health Foundation.

He explained that currently, there is just one mental health clinic in Edmonton, and it’s located in the north-east end. Horcica believes the city needs more clinics so that treatment is more accessible and available to Edmontonians.

“The increase in referrals to our existing clinic, our Northgate clinic…it’s tough for families to get out there,” he added. “There’s a need.”

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The Foundation will work with Alberta Health Services to build additional mental health clinics in the city to service youth and their families.

“We’re partnering with Alberta Health Services who will be building the clinics, but we’ll be making them family-friendly,” explained Lindsay Kelly, the Foundation’s past chair. “It’s incredibly stressful, not only on the child who’s been diagnosed with mental illness, but also on the families.”

“To have a facility in every quadrant of the city in places where people live and it’s easy for them to get to, will really be phenomenal.”

The keynote speakers at Wednesday’s event were host of Hockey Night in Canada, Kelly Hrudey, who’s also a former Edmontonian and NHL goaltender, and his daughter Kaitlin.

Kaitlin, a student at Mount Royal University spoke about her personal experience with mental health challenges and how her family is addressing them.

“When I was about 11, that’s when I had a lot of thoughts in my head that were overwhelming,” shared Kaitlin. “It got to a point where I couldn’t leave the house, or I couldn’t leave my parents’ side. It got to a point where I had no choice but to get help. I was dying for help; I just didn’t know what was going on. It was just really scary.”

Kelly said he started to notice differences in his daughter’s behaviour.

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“The first thing I noticed was she had this random blinking thing going on with her eyes,” he recalled. “Kaitlin said she couldn’t leave the house, she couldn’t go to school, she loved dance… but she couldn’t go to dance… She was a caged animal.”

One day, he remembers, her mother drove her to school, but Kaitlin couldn’t get out of the car. They drove back home and immediately looked for support.

“My wife opened the phone book … and found the first child psychologist in the phone book.”

“Luckily she got in that day,” he said.

“That was the first day getting help and it’s been a hard road.”

Despite the challenges, Kaitlin is now speaking out about her anxiety and her treatment in the hopes of increasing the dialogue about mental health and removing the stigma attached to it.

“Forty-nine per cent of people – according to the Canadian Mental Health Association – do not get treatment for mental health because of the stigma, because they’re afraid they’ll be treated differently,” explained Lindsay Kelly.

“We’ll have 800 people here in the room to listen to the story of mental health,” she added. “To have 800 people here is phenomenal… because it’s a subject a lot of people don’t want to talk about.”

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Kaitlin hopes sharing her story will encourage more young people to reach out for help when they need it.

“I wouldn’t be nearly as happy or successful as I am now if I didn’t get help.”

“It’s really important to get help and learn how to cope with what you’re dealing with and just to be open about it,” she said.

“For somebody who’s gone through what she’s gone through, she’s such a strong personality, and very courageous,” said Horcica. “I think it was important for people to understand that this isn’t something that happens behind the scenes; this happens to people they know and see.”

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