Wearing a ball-and-chain on one leg and walking down the highway, Mike Loughman has made it his mission to highlight the struggles many people have with mental illness – and the need for compassion and to listen.
“Be understanding and considerate,” says Loughman.
“The most important thing you can do for someone is just listening. Sometimes we need someone to talk to without advice. Listen to what we’re going through.”
But be ready to offer support too, he adds.
Loughman’s journey is taking him from High Level to Airdrie. He started on June 25 and expects to finish by the end of July. He passed through the Smoky River region last week.
He is doing his walk for the Defeat Depression Campaign and Thumbs Up Foundation, raising money and seeking sponsorship along the way.
Loughman says mental health struggles are always there; they never go away.
“They are lifelong and the public has to be aware of the need to support those struggling with them,” he says.
Loughman admits to the struggles he’s endured. As per his backgrounder, he was diagnosed four years ago with severe mental health issues. Once diagnosed he started taking medication and seeing a therapist on a regular basis.
“For the first time in my life, I found happiness and was able to manage my life a whole lot better. I also got sober in the process. After 20-plus years of alcohol and drug addictions I am proud to say that I am 30-plus months sober.”
His backgrounder also provides reasons to help those in need, providing statistics as well.
Why get involved
Mental illness impacts virtually every Canadian family, millions of individuals and strikes all socio-economic, educational and cultural backgrounds.
Of those who develop depression or anxiety, only about 20 per cent will receive adequate treatment. Astonishingly, 97 per cent of people reporting their conditions also report that their work, home life and relationships have suffered as a result of their illness or those of a family member.
Around 91 per cent of Canadians with children say that their depression often or sometimes interferes with their family life and 47 per cent say that their depression interferes with their relationship with their spouse or partner.
Depression is a common mental disorder, characterized by sadness, loss of interest or pleasure, feelings of guilt or low self-worth, disturbed sleep or appetite, low energy and poor concentration.
These problems can become chronic or recurrent, substantially impair an individual’s ability to cope with daily life. At its most severe, depression can lead to suicide.
There are approximately 4,000 suicides in Canada every year – 11 people each day. Suicide accounts for 24 per cent of all deaths among Canadians aged 15 to 24 and 16 per cent of all deaths for the age group 25 to 44. These startling facts are why this campaign is so important and why so many
Canadians join Defeat Depression events or volunteer to organize an event in their communities.
To support Loughman in his march, contact him at (587) 439-5200 or email him at MikesMarch@DefeatDepression.ca.
You can also go to www.defeatdepression.ca for information about donating to their organization or hosting an event. For the Thumbs Up Foundation, go to www.thethumbsupfoundation.com.