June 1, 2021 to June 30, 2021
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Ride Anytime, Anywhere – Greater Vancouver
In times of crisis, everyone’s mental health needs increase. As we continue to face a health crisis due to COVID-19, CMHA, Vancouver-Fraser is responding as best we can to support our community’s mental health. So today we invite you to continue with the Ride Don’t Hide movement as a virtual event – Ride Anytime, Anywhere.
During the month of June 30, you can ride anytime, anywhere to support critical mental health services in Vancouver-Fraser. Ride Anytime, Anywhere gives us an opportunity to work together for something good, while being apart.
Date & Time
In the month of June, you can Ride Anytime, Anywhere.
Join us today
Registration is now open! Join us today.
Creating a corporate culture of mental wellness
Seeing the importance of frank mental health conversations, Jim Pan is bridging the personal/professional divide to bring Ride Don’t Hide to his team at Prometheus Private Advisory Group.
“I have seen friends suffer from mental illness,” said Pan, a planned giving advisor at Prometheus. “A paralegal, a banker – it impacted their lives a lot. It was shocking to see how quickly things changed, how they needed to take a professional break, and how hard it was to get back to work.”
As a friend, the situation left Pan feeling helpless.
“I couldn’t support them much,” he said. “It’s common to shy away from these conversations and to have a friend shut down. I felt frustrated that I couldn’t help them more. If I encounter poor mental health again I want to be better equipped to support them.”
Personal connections brought Pan to the CMHA-VF Board of Directors and started his journey to become a more knowledgeable supporter of mental wellness for all.
Organizational primed and ready
As part of the financial planning sector, Pan feels he and his colleagues are the perfect partners for promoting mental health.
“We are used to tough conversations,” he said. “When people are considering their financial reality and their future they have to be honest and vulnerable. Those are the same qualities we need for meaningful mental health conversations. As an organization, we have a younger group of advisors where we created a culture of giving that reflects in business and employee overall wellness.”
Prometheus as an organization was aware of the impacts Covid-19 was having on the larger community.
“We live in one of the best places in the world and we were fortunate to keep practicing [during the pandemic],” said Pan. “This is a stressful time in many people’s lives. We see that. Internally mental wellness is part of the conversation and participating in Ride Don’t Hide shows externally mental health is a priority.”
Prometheus is building on past experience supporting local causes and choosing Ride Don’t Hide for its 2021 charity of choice.
“It brings us together,” said Pan. “We all have something that we love and this is a cause that lets us do what we are each passionate about, working together for something. We welcome friendly competition in our firm. At our daily huddle I share who’s in the lead and the totals – right now we are at about 13 percent of our $15,000 goal. The daily update keeps it top of mind.”
The team is planning to approach Ride Don’t Hide creatively following up on fundraising techniques that have worked in the past. Every team member is doing different activities to pledge dollars, some will ride, some will run and Pan plans to host a small golf tournament.
“We might tie it all together with a ride of some kind,” said Pan, “but I think it’s about embracing the flexibility of the virtual event and using the variety of people’s interests to support Ride Don’t Hide.”
And at its core, the goal is to support youth mental health and let people in their personal and professional circles know that mental wellness is a priority they support.
“One of the hardest things was seeing my friend feel he had to be two different people,” said Pan. “He could be open with us but felt he had to show his parents that everything was ‘fine.’ That stigma makes the situation worse and makes it more difficult to accept help.”
Register for the CMHA-VF Ride Don’t Hide Corporate Challenge by registering a team today at ridedonthide.com/greatervancouver.
Working together, apart
The world is settling into a new normal of physical distance. Work has changed, home has changed, exercise has changed, fundraising has changed. The foundation of Ride Don’t Hide has not changed. That vision of creating a community to support mental wellness is strong but how CMHA achieves that goal has transformed the event. As we work towards a new idea and the Ride Anytime, Anywhere, we still have important partners joining us on this new ride.
The Ride Don’t Hide community ride and celebration has been an important date on the G&F Financial Group’s calendar. Group leaders David Chan and Peter Lam have been building their team for a number of years.
“Life and work can be stressful,” said Lam. “We always look forward to June. This event is on the calendar – we are ready to volunteer and ride. This year we started riding and having fun really early. With everything changing we still want to do something going forward.”
Like most Vancouverites, the team at G&F Financial has been dealing with a lot of change. Some are working from home but the nature of their work and the trust they want to offer their clients, has many still in their office but in different ways. They are working a compressed three-day work week, with partial, separated staff, said Lam.
“Squeezing five days of work into three days has been challenging and rewarding,” said Lam. “I am glad we are helping our clients in this stressful time and it means we have more time to ride!”
The mild winter and spring drove the G&F team out on the road early. Five months into the year they already have over 4000km under their belts.
“I couldn’t believe it!” said Lam. “We started doing 50-60km rides and now we are regularly doing over 150 – even 200km!”
The arrival of the covid-19 pandemic changed how the team rides but still has them on the road apart but together.
“We have a very close group who ride every Saturday,” said Lam. “We made a pact that we stay home if we are sick. Some have family members who have young children, family members with low immune systems or health conditions. We need to message and communicate as a group to see how we are all doing.”
The group is still heading out on the road but the rides look very different from the past.
“We need to be careful about route planning,” said Lam. “We need to make sure there are places that are open for a stop if we need anything. We keep a distance away from other riders and our own riders – that means when we stop at stop lights we are all spread out – half a block away at the end. We don’t high five each other. It’s a little strange to stay apart but we know we need to do it.”
While the riding is important, the connection and common goal of Ride Don’t Hide is almost more important, said Lam.
“Before each ride we check in with each other,” said Lam. “We give gratitude for being well and for being able to do what we do. It is hard to stay home all the time. These rides help us stay mentally strong – they protect our mental wellness.”
Tips from G&F to ride apart, together
- Try to get out once a week – it will keep you healthy and restore you mentally making you strong for you, your family and friends.
- Don’t open the group to anyone, keep riders the same with an understanding of how each is isolating.
- Make sure your group is healthy each ride.
- Make sure the group is aware of safety and distance measures needed to protect everyone.
- Use face coverings.
- Be as self-sufficient as possible to limit stops on your routes
- Be considerate of those you ask to donate ensuring they are on strong financial ground.
Keeping active and keeping safe
As pandemic culture has taken over life in B.C. we are all dealing with a lot of changes. Some are working from home, some aren’t working. We are having to keep physical distance from each other, which raises anxiety and uses a lot of effort to squash our human instincts to connect.
Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.’s top medical officer is encouraging residents (as of April 9) to take care of their mental and physical health by getting outside and staying active – while responsibly following the safety guidelines put in place. We are embracing this advice with our shift from the community ride and celebration of previous Ride Don’t Hides to our Ride Anytime, Anywhere. From now until June 30 dedicate your physical activity, anytime, anywhere to support CMHA-VF.
Ride Anytime, Anywhere is about using the resources we have to end the stigma around mental health and raise much needed funds for youth mental health programs. We are all being challenged mentally and there will be many levels of trauma to recover from. We are profoundly aware our youth programs need more support than ever.
We also know the economy is another area of anxiety. Physical distancing is saving money for some. Consider taking your social coffee or weekly beer-meetup savings and putting it towards RDH. No more commuting? Consider donating a portion of your transit or gas money.
As you are getting out and active please do it safely. This isn’t the time to master a new skill on the trail or beat your best time on the road. Also be mindful to that the required two metres distance from non-household members may not be best practice for sport. If you have the equipment, working out indoors is a great option but in Vancouver’s high cost homes, most people don’t have the space.
On a recent CBC program Dr. Raj Bhardwaj, the CBC’s western Canada health and medicine columnist, emphasized the more forceful exhalations from running and cycling can put others at risk. The physical distance needed for such pursuits is larger than the two metres recommended for walking. He suggested keeping a distance of at least five seconds between cyclists especially when moving back over after passing walkers or runners. Don’t move over as quickly as you would typically or you risk exposing others to your respirations, he said.
This article gives a good explanation why athletes used to drafting need to give each other more space. Similar to Dr. Bhardwaj, increased distancing is recommended. “On the basis of these results the scientist advises that for walking the distance of people moving in the same direction in one line should be at least four to five metres apart, for running and slow biking it should be 10 metres and for hard biking at least 20 metres.”
This is another post to consider as you assess the best way to ride safely.
Why we ride
All the proceeds from the Greater Vancouver Ride Don’t Hide support the youth programs of the Canadian Mental Health Association, Vancouver-Fraser. We hope that by supporting children we can empower them with the knowledge, the support and the community to help them on their mental wellness journey.
Your Ride Don’t Hide funds are targeted at three main projects. Most of the projects are offered directly by our offices and one is an exciting partnership.
Urban Resilience Opportunities for Kids (previously Super Fun Groups) builds resiliency, creates connection and instills confidence to children who live with a parent with a mental illness by providing monthly outings. In addition to increasing the social network of children and promoting social skill development, the program ensures that youth have the opportunity to interact with safe and supportive adult role models, and focuses on forming healthy attachments through ongoing acceptance and long-term participation in the program. With this approach, youth achieve success in the programs where they might not in other areas of life. The program also offers family nights to help all members of the family learn how to improve the overall mental health of their family.
Pandemonium creates fun and empowerment for youth who have a mental health problem. The recreation-based program provides a social and safe environment for youth to reintegrate back into the community and provides activities that allow participants to meet – and overcome – personal challenges in a supportive way. It offers experience in building friendships and encourages the development of peer social networks that reduce the isolation often felt by youth who are living with a mental health problem.
Participants in Pandemonium and Super Fun report an 85 percent increase in confidence after participating in the program. You can find referral information here.
This interactive mental health awareness program aims to reduce the stigma of mental illness, increase mental health literacy and create a supportive environment for youth to access help for mental health concerns. Here4Peers is offered to high school students to provide them with respectful language to be able to talk about mental health issues as well as provide effective tools and healthy coping strategies for dealing with stress, anxiety and depression. The program also provides students with current information on accessing help for themselves, their peers and their loved ones. The strength of the program is that trained youth leaders in school settings deliver these interactive workshops aimed at Grade 6 and 7 students. This fantastic program is supported by CMHA Vancouver-Fraser, the Vancouver Police Foundation, the Vancouver Police Department, Vancouver School Board and Vancouver Coastal Health.
If you are interested in receiving the workshops in your school, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
There is always a TEAM in MEnTAl health
We hear over and over again the isolation that comes with mental health challenges. Whether it is not knowing who you can turn to or the fear of stigma that still floods our culture. During any health challenge feeling supported helps improve outcomes – mental health is no different. We aim to always find the TEAM in mental health and wellness.
One of the easiest ways to show you are a mental health ally is by joining Ride Don’t Hide – the community fundraiser aims to bring mental health into the open. By joining and raising money to support programs, you immediately identify yourself as a safe and supportive person.
You can take your commitment a simple step further by creating a team and championing mental wellness for all those in your circle, community, workplace or family.
Creating a team can have long lasting impacts. For G&F Financial Group, team leader Peter Lam values how doing Ride Don’t Hide as a team is shifting corporate culture.
“When we talk about Ride Don’t Hide we can talk about mental health and remind people that there are many people going through this – we sometimes don’t see it by the way people look or the way the behave,” he said.
Ever cognizant of the daily stress of being a first responder, an RCMP leader saw joining a Ride Don’t Hide team as an overt indicator these issues matter.
“It’s a sign as a senior leader I am walking the talk,” said BC RCMP Surrey Detachment Superintendent Edward Boettcher. “I am riding for the cause but meeting the people who are living the challenges of mental health is far more powerful. It affects everybody – not just us as first responders.”
The whole process can be simpler than you think. It doesn’t lead to questions you may not be ready to talk about. The community impact of Ride Don’t Hide speaks for itself.
“I didn’t need to justify it or talk about personal experiences but it has led to really positive conversations,” Sarah Embury of PenderFund Capital Management. “ Even if people don’t say it, they get it. I don’t think there is anyone out there who it hasn’t touched in someway.”
How to create a team
- Visit www.ridedonthide.com
- Click Register Now!
- Under June 14, 2020, select Ride Don’t Hide Greater Vancouver, Swangard Stadium – Burnaby, B.C. and click Register Now!
- Get started by creating a new account.
- Select your Ride Distance or Ride Anytime – choose between Fundraise My Fee or paying a registration fee.
- Choose Create a Team and Type
- Choose a Team Name & Fundraising Goal
- Complete required information.
- Click ‘Save & Add Another Participant’. You can always add a team member later on by signing back into your account or they can register by joining your team.
- You’re in!
Get together and get out there
Your role as leader can be as a guide or a full on facilitator – whatever your team needs.
“I take on the roll of ‘champion’ so I send out the emails to everyone and I personally signed everyone up to make sure it’s done,” explained Embury. “I talk to everyone and explain how it works and give them tips to fundraise. Some people choose to register and participate and others just fundraise. If people aren’t taking on the fundraising themselves they are really good and donate to me or others on the team who are. There is a sense of attachment to it in the office – we do it every year and we feel a loyalty to the event.”
Our teams that come back year after year make an effort to be a real team. They put in the work of training together – some for weekend family fun rides, others build up to the 60k or 100k – and they get out and play together. Kick off your team with a potluck or pizza party, grab coffee together once a month to strategize pushing your fundraising to the next goal, host joint fundraisers (like a garage sale, a pub night, etc) that wouldn’t work solo. Most importantly listen and lean on each other. Your team is about more than Ride Don’t Hide, it’s about making your personal community a little stronger, a little safer and a little more open.
A resolution that is part of a revolution
It seems that this time of year is about vision and reflection. We are proud of Ride Don’t Hide 2019! Probably like most of you, we had challenges and successes. We have big plans for 2020. We want to get more people involved
in ending the stigma around mental health. We want to bring more people along as we push mental health into the open. We want more people on the road and thriving in this community ride.
Join us in June 2020 for Ride Don’t Hide! This is a goal worth setting and keeping – training for a big goal like a 20 or 100 kilometer ride can not only change your lifestyle completely for the better, it will benefit Vancouver-area youth, with every dollar from RDH going to support CMHA mental health programs.
Here are some tips on how to figure out and achieve your RDH goal!
Find your motivation
Choose a goal that inspires you to do the work. Choose something that gets you excited and full of pride. You want something that pushes you to share it. You want something that will help you get out of bed or out on the road when you just aren’t quite sure. Find something that fills you up and helps others. Ride Don’t Hide can check all of those boxes. With bike distances ranging from five to 100 kilometres, it can be your first group cycling event or a bucket-list ride for the seasoned athlete. There is an experience for everyone.
Make your goal SMART
You have likely heard of SMART goals before. Ride Don’t Hide is definitely SMART.
- Specific – Ride Don’t Hide 60k, not just to get out on your bike more.
- Measurable – Break the goal down into measurable pieces, like biking 3 times a week or raising $1500.
- Attainable – Don’t aim to raise $10,000, choose an attainable $1000. Don’t choose the 100k if you have never ridden 10k. A goal should push us but be achievable.
- Relevant – Make sure RDH matters to you. You won’t achieve your goal if dislike biking – do our walk instead. The closer your relationship with mental health, the more motivated you will be to put the work in. If you aren’t, choosing a different event will likely have more success.
- Time Bound – We are all people and most people are motivated by a deadline. Choosing to ride 60k in 2020 is a good goal, but giving yourself June’s Ride Don’t Hide deadline will make you more successful.
Share your goal
Working towards something is always easier with allies – share your intentions with someone. Maybe it’s a post on social media, perhaps a conversation with a colleague, maybe it’s signing up not just yourself, but your whole family. Voicing your goal for the first time will be empowering and people will support you. That simple conversation may change a life. When you tell people you are supporting mental health and committing to Ride Don’t Hide, you become a safe place for others to share their struggles – and it’s one of the best parts of RDH.
Make a plan & stick with it
We want you to be successful. We want your fundraising to surpass your expectations and we want your ride to be amazing. CMHA will support you all the way. We have a new website and new tools to support all your RDH goals.
The power of Your Story
There are so many powerful moments at Ride Don’t Hide.
We see families rallying around loved ones. We have people emerging from the fog of depression and getting active and out in the community. We find partners willing to fight for mental health for all. We hear voices who deserve to be heard.
Last June, we are grateful 13 participants in Ride Don’t Hide found the courage to share their journey. Our Your Story tent captured the voices and experiences of people living with mental health challenges. Their stories are powerful – and all too common.
One in five Canadians will undergo some sort of mental health challenge throughout their life. Despite its prevalence, people with mental health conditions often don’t feel supported, understood or even heard. It is hard to be an advocate through bureaucracy for yourself when you are unsure of reality, when you are crippled by anxiety or when unable to get out of bed.
Voices worth hearing
The Ride Don’t Hide participants who shared their stories were so honest and open. Their words will have an impact. Some are heartbreaking, some are profound. All are deeply personal.
Take a moment to read just a few snippets from a handful of people and hear why events like Ride Don’t Hide matter. Why talking about mental health can be the simple gesture that saves a life. How recognizing mental health is HEALTH and deserves the same treatment options as other conditions. Learn the importance of being a safe person to support and love someone who is struggling.
Be empowered to ask for help or make a difference – join us in June 2020 for Ride Don’t Hide.
If you are struggling
“I would say, reach out. Don’t give up and there is always someone, something or somewhere to go for support. You are not alone. Like, you are never actually alone. Maybe it doesn’t feel like it but there is always someone out there who can relate or be there for you, that’s not going to give up on you or judge you.” – Danielle
Love and be loved
“Just sit down and just be with them. You don’t need to say anything. They don’t need to say anything. Just knowing that your there is huge. Huge. So, just be there.” – Christy
We need to shift culture
“Stereotypically men are supposed to be strong and not show their emotions. I think men think ‘it’s not that big of a deal’ until it’s too late. Obviously I can’t speak for everybody who’s going through this but I don’t think there’s enough support out there for it.” – Steven
The system is broken
“If you have cancer everyone is supportive of that but mental health – that’s just as dangerous and damaging and life changing – right. And it doesn’t affect just you – it affects your friends, your family, your pets, your work. I could go on forever.” – Danielle
On Ride Don’t Hide’s commitment to bring mental health into the open
“I think there is still a stigma. No matter what people say I think there still is. So it’s really important for these events to happen and to get the message out and put yourself out there. And get across that mental illness is actually a physical illness – of our brains.” – Ruth
How one rider with one community goal helped spark Ride Don’t Hide
Ride Don’t Hide is a story of many people coming together to achieve more than they ever could apart. There would be no national Ride Don’t Hide without Michael Schratter embarking on a worldwide journey to raise money and open the dialogue on mental health in 2010. Before that epic endeavour, before it gave way to a national movement, there was a smaller, humbler beginning that lay the foundation for a bike ride that engaged the community in talking about mental health.
The 2019 Greater Vancouver Ride Don’t Hide is proud to acknowledge this beginning and the community ride, naming the 20k route after the young man who had a big idea to end stigma, Chris Reynolds.
Vancouver racer Chris Reynolds, at the time barely into his 20s, was a competitive Cat 2 road racer, driven but fighting his own battles with mental health. With family ties to the Canadian Mental Health Association, Chris used his long training rides in Richmond to connect with other members of the Central Vancouver Cycling Club and plant seeds of using riding to promote mental health.
“Back then it wasn’t very easy to reduce stigma about mental illness, I figure if these teams road supporting CMHA there would probably be a bit of dent in stigma – even just locally,” said Chris.
Chris realized he could use the support he was getting to support the larger mental illness community. Using the model of other fundraisers, Chris partnered with his team and cycling clubs to launch a community ride for mental health. Something that had never been done before.
“The only people drawback was I thought people would have to know my diagnosis,” he said, adding, “I was kind of okay with that, my whole life I haven’t really felt I was stigmatized.”
He found the response was very positive from the cycling community, in part because mental health struggles are so limitless – anyone can be affected – which was the case for some loved ones of key local cycling supporters.
“That first ride was small, I think about 37 people participated – I know we had more volunteers than participants!”
The event was also hugely supported by Chris’ family. His father, Jim Reynolds, was a past president of the CMHA Vancouver-Burnaby branch.
“When Chris got his club to put the CMHA logo on their jersey – it was a clear sign that this was a main stream cause as opposed to stigmatized backwater affliction that mental illness had been,” said Jim. “Those days aren’t over but there has been tremendous progress. I like to think the ride is a part of that.”
After Michael Schratter launched – and returned from – his global ride for mental health, creating the national Ride Don’t Hide movement, it was woven into Chris’ CMHA Community Bike Ride and gradually spread across the country as the key community builder and fundraiser for the CMHA.
Today Ride Don’t Hide is in 21 communities from coast to coast. Over 10,000 people will participate and more than $2 million will be raised.
“It’s a good event,” said Chris. “I think people are getting help from this. I hope people have fun – I hope it reduces stigma and I hope that helps people with mental illness live a better life.”
The countdown is on!
We are excited! We have a bigger and better celebration than ever. We will have our family fun activities plus new this year: Cycling BC is bringing a kids’ bike zone – try some challenges and have fun. We are extremely pleased to present a young local singer/songwriter Jada McKenzie-Moore! June 23 is her birthday. She rocks and so will you when you hear her music. We also have entertainment from the Showstoppers, Step Out Sister and the CMHA Happy Seniors Group. And, of course, We will have a bike valet to keep your ride secure.
This year we have tweaked some of the longer routes to keep it interesting. We have new 100k and 60k routes that take into account construction detours. Our family friendly 5k stride/ride, 10k and 20k routes are our tried and true favourites. Take the time to become familiar with your route and know the turns. Perhaps ride all or part of it before the ride. The more familiar you are with the route, the more comfortable you will be on ride day.
We will be reaching out to you soon to verify your preferred pick up location. Important dates to mark on your calendar:
June 17: TENTATIVE – CMHA VF Package Pick up, 2425 Quebec Street: 4pm to 8pm
June 19, 20, 21: CMHA North Vancouver: Hope Centre Kelty Room: 10am to 4pm
One of our sponsors Nuun Hydration is already is roaring to go and get you riding. We have special promo code for Ride Don’t Hide participants: RDH25 use it online at Nuun – their Cherry Limeade is delicious!
Keep riding! Keep pushing! Keep the donations coming!
We think we can
When Santa Ono speaks about mental health his devotion is palpable – even through the phone. In his Ted Talk – a must watch – his honesty and passion is a call to action.
The President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of British Columbia has a very personal journey with mental health. Today with treatment and support he is symptom free, but Ono is frank discussing two suicide attempts. His personal mental health journey drives his efforts to protect and support youth mental health.
“I am trying to be an example of someone who has experienced challenges of mental health throughout my life,” he said. “The hope is that if they see me talk about it, more and more people will feel comfortable talking about their own challenges.”
In his advocacy work as a global leader in post-secondary education mental health strategies, Ono continues to speak the names of students who died by suicide while attending his institutions. He shares the stories of students Laura Taylor and Brogan Dulle to emphasize one in five students has poor mental health: athletes, award-winners, the popular and the ‘nerds’ like Ono himself. Calling on us all to open the dialogue on mental health, to end the stigma that surrounds it and to help create more stories with recovery – like his.
Ono’s administrative positions at the University of Cincinnati and UBC entrusted him with a great responsibility – one he sees to not only support academic achievement but healthy academic success.
“Students are on their own, they may not have a local health care provider, they are at a young age and vulnerable,” he said. “We use a hub and spoke model with a cluster of places to support our students but also embed counselling support 24/7 in our halls of residence.”
It also includes creating a culture that places mental health as a top priority and implementing policies that allow for academic flexibility.
“They other thing we do is a lot of research,” said Ono. “The Faculty of Education is at the cutting edge. We share our mental health literacy program widely and I think it is touching schools systems and institutions on both sides of the border, coast to coast.”
Ono continues his advocacy work beyond his role at UBC. He lends his voice supporting mental health initiatives and leads his own. Ono is combining passion for mental health awareness and music with a series of concerts.
“Another way I try to have an affect on culture change is to participate in the annual musical event Mysterious Barricades. It takes place at institutions across Canada,” he said, adding he is working with working with musician Julie Lowe of the Vancouver Academy of Music on a new concert series. “Mozart, Schumann and Bach are all individuals who had mental health challenges. It shows you can have mental health problems and be outstanding – and it illustrates it is not always possible to see when someone is having mental health challenges. People can be outwardly succeeding and still need support.”
UBC and Ono’s participation in countless symposiums and summits in Canada and the US – has positioned them at the forefront of this important issue.
“I do think that UBC is recognized as playing a role far beyond our campus boundaries. The fact that I and others are invited to speak at conferences and institutions – it’s a sign that the work we are doing is impactful and appreciated,” he said. “Looking into the future I hope that continues more. Every year I hope we serve our staff, faculty and students better than we did before.”
Tackling stigma from the top
With almost 30 years of policing under his belt BC RCMP Surrey Detachment Superintendent Edward Boettcher took a knee. It wasn’t the frontline trauma of PTSD common amongst first responders that impacted his mental health, it was the responsibility and demands that accompany the commissioned officer world in policing.
“When we talk about policing culture we all know stigma is silencing,” said Boettcher. “When you encounter that you feel unbearably alone. I began to struggle with all the competing pressures and expectations and the commissioned officer mentality ‘you can handle anything that comes your way.’ I found the stress of being in command – the competing pressures, workflow demands, those high expectations of being a high performer, to be confident, to have a threshold of work capacity – is the norm of the officer world I am in. As I have moved higher up in senior leadership I see it has its own reality.”
For a number of years mental health education has been a key part of member training and continuing education in the RCMP, he said. He combined elements of the RCMP Mental Health Strategy with the ground breaking Trauma Informed Leadership program developed by former Abbotsford PD Chief Bob Rich – with his blessing. Presentations were then delivered to all frontline members in Surrey under his command.
“What happened with me is as I was telling our officers if they are struggling with trauma associated with frontline policing to take a knee – to put their hand up and I realized I was struggling myself,” said Boettcher. “I reached out and saw a psychologist for the first time in my career at 27 years of service. And I got stronger and bounced back better than ever. What I realized is this wasn’t PTSD we talk so often about. There is a whole other stream of mental health which is organizational stress. I know I am not alone in the commissioned officer world, regardless of police agency. The work wheels in our head are always spinning and it can be difficult to slow that down. It is collective baggage and our normal is not normal. It’s our job to look after our people. To do that properly, we also need to be looking after ourselves.”
Not only was this tough time a turning point for Boettcher’s mental health, it was an important period in his position as a leader. His choice to be frank about his own struggles has opened the dialogue on mental health in a way that is different and more impactful than before.
“We need to rid ourselves of that whole ‘suck it up’ mentality and encourage our employees to become self aware, process trauma and demonstrate self regulating behaviour, and most importantly seek help,” Boettcher said. “I hope showing this vulnerability from the leadership perspective helps diminish the stigma that they may have been feeling.
“Speaking from a higher rank, you never know what the reaction will be. When I came back from seeing the psychologist and I started the frontline presentations for my members combined with my own story some members came up and shook my hand which had never happened before. I had members come to my office, shut the door and begin crying and wishing someone had done this presentation four or five years before when they or their families were struggling.”
There was another important consequence. Being one of the first to stand up and share his experience encouraged others to do so too, noted Boettcher.
“When a ‘white shirt’ like me speaks to members it doesn’t always have a connection but when their peers or a respected officer with ‘street cred’ speaks to his or her past struggles, getting help and bouncing back it can have more of an impact – when I share my story I have more of those officers willing to step up and say ‘Put me in coach’,” he said. “When they see their cohorts speaking, we will see a true culture change.
“I want to see a day when seeing a psychologist becomes as normal as a member seeing a dentist, a doctor or a chiropractor.”
In Boettcher’s continuing goal to be an advocate for mental health he is participating again in Ride Don’t Hide. From starting conversations about his own involvement to spending time with riders and hearing how mental health education is making a difference, it’s an event he participates in year after year.
“It’s a sign as a senior leader I am walking the talk,” he said. “I am riding for the cause but meeting the people who are living the challenges of mental health is far more powerful. It affects everybody – not just us as first responders.”
Speaking about his experience doing the police escorted 100k route, Boettcher draws parallels of the community supporting people with mental health.
“You bike as a group, you pull as a group, you draft as a group. You help along people who may be struggling who in another circumstance may have dropped off. The experience of doing it together makes everyone more successful.”
Make it FUN-draising
There is about one month to go and it’s time to set some goals. With 1 in 5 people affected by poor mental health in their life, as simple goal is to get out on your bike 1 in 5 days. You will feel physically better and mentally stronger.
It is also the time to focus on fundraising. How are you going to reach your $500, your $1500 or your team’s $10,000 goal? Fundraising is far easier and more FUN when it is personal and honest. There are simple things like: just ask. You will be surprised by the number of yeses that can come from one email. But if you want to put the FUN in fundraising consider ideas like:
- If you love to bake hold a sale at your office or take orders for $50 for your famous cheesecake or cinnamon buns. The trick is to not under price yourself – people are willing to pay for a good product especially when the profit is for a good cause.
- Chat up your local pub – many offer a $25 burger & beer/wine for fundraising where you keep $10 or so of the ticket price. This can be a huge hit with teams or individuals with big social circles.
- It’s garage sale season – turn your junk into profits.
- Are you a musician? Host a living room party and pass the hat. Love movies? Host a movie night and charge for snacks.
- Create a challenge – pledge to shave your head/dye your hair/anything else to grab attention. The momentum of a good challenge can set your network buzzing. This is awesome for schools or anywhere kids are involved – they love to see you do something silly.
We have also made some social media tools you can download (right click on the images and save as) and post to your social media profile with a link to your fundraising page. Just seeing you are riding may trigger a donation.
Opening dialogue and getting loud
Whether seasoned riders, weekend warriors or passionate advocates donning a bike for the first time Ride Don’t Hide creates an opportunity for all to participate and walk away with very special memories.
“It’s amazing – in the beginning there is a big line up and a presentation and hear everyone hyped up and ready to go. It’s a really fun event,” says Peter Lam of Team G&F Financial Group.
As a multi-year participant Lam was eager to share this event with his colleagues. Bringing the powerful community event to the office has meant opening the dialogue on mental health.
“When you are going through something like [mental health challenges], sometimes people feel that if their colleagues know or management know it will be a disadvantage,” said Lam. “But that has nothing to do with your past work or the work you will do going forward.
“When we talk about Ride Don’t Hide we can talk about mental health and remind people that there are many people going through this. We sometimes don’t see it by the way people look or the way the behave.”
Through a shared love of cycling Lam discussed bringing Ride Don’t Hide with colleague David Chan. Together they brought it to their offices at G&F Financial Group.
“Ride Don’t Hide is great for opening that awareness to everyone and that there is help,” said Lam. “Working in management I try to make it clear to staff that there are options through HR that are available. Usually it isn’t until after people say – ‘Hey I was going through this really rough time.’ That’s how I hear about it. I want people to know we are here as they go through it – if they need us.”
For Chan it was a chance to have an impact in his own community.
“Living in the area I knew about I knew about Ride Don’t Hide,” he said. “I like the idea of doing something that was in my community. I have seen during my work in the financial industry people affected by poor mental health.”
As champions of Ride Don’t Hide at their workplace Lam and Chan are passionate about sharing two big rewards: the riders you meet and the unique experience.
“The road is pretty much shut down – I have never experienced that,” said Chan. “And being escorted by police is pretty exciting. Being in such a big group of riders working together and working for such a great cause is really exciting.”
For Chan it’s all about people.
“A lot people who are doing the ride who are suffering through this. It’s a reminder that anyone can go through this and seeing them out makes us want to do more and fundraise more.”
How Ride Don’t Hide can be a community and corporate win
When Sarah Embury joined PenderFund Capital Management she knew she was going to share her passion for mental health. In university she began volunteering with the Canadian Mental Health Association in Kelowna.
“I really liked what they were doing,” said Embury. “When I moved to Vancouver I knew I would continue.”
Landing at PenderFund, a firm well known on the roads of Vancouver for its cyclists, support of bike racing and local events, it was easy for Embury to approach firm leadership about making Ride Don’t Hide an annual event.
“They knew I was passionate about mental health, it was something I wanted so I just asked,” she said, adding that as she explained the cause it was easy to get behind supporting mental health programs. “I didn’t need to justify it or talk about personal experiences but it has led to really positive conversations. Even if people don’t say it, they get it. I don’t think there is anyone out there who it hasn’t touched in someway.”
Today, after its years of support, PenderFund is an Ambassador Sponsor of RDH. It’s a partnership and success that has come from the momentum brought by a having a dedicated leader. A role Embury recommends to anyone to extend their support of the event to colleagues or a social team.
“I take on the the roll of ‘champion’ so I send out the emails to everyone and I personally signed everyone up to make sure it’s done,” she explained. “I talk to everyone and explain how it works and give them tips to fundraise. Some people choose to register and participate and others also fundraise. If people aren’t taking on the fundraising themselves they are really good and donate to me or others on the team who are. There is a sense of attachment to it in the office – we do it every year and we feel a loyalty to the event.”
That passion grows because, unlike some other cycling events, Ride Don’t Hide has so many options for participation.
“It’s more inclusive – everyone can come out. Some bring their kids or someone serious can do the 100k,” Embury said. “For us, our largest group is the 60k where we have our experienced cyclists ride with our newer ones. It’s great that you can have a challenge if you want or you can come out with your little kids. We can have the whole company come out. With the walk-run there is an option for everyone.”
The resulting team building and morale boosts lingers in the office with a sense of connection and accomplishment making Ride Don’t Hide a win for mental health, a win for participants and a win for the firm, she said.
“It’s amazing – even though I am the one who has done it the most – every year I am amazed how good it is to have the team together, to do something physical and for a good cause,” said Embury. “It’s kind of a cliche but it’s phenomenal and we are overjoyed to cross the line together.”
CMHA is proud to recognize PenderFund Capital Management as an Ambassador Sponsor of Ride Don’t Hide celebrating our valued volunteers. Thank you so much for your support.
Ready, set – ride
Hitting the road for a family ride, an after work stress burner or a training session, sometimes it’s hard to figure out where to go. Greater Vancouver has a variety of routes worth checking out. Likewise, Ride Don’t Hide has a variety of distances that go through Vancouver, Richmond and Burnaby.
If your bike journeys haven’t gone much further than the corner park, adding a few extra rides over the next two months will show you parts of the Lower Mainland that you may not have looked at before. You might find hidden coffee shops and secret neighbourhood bakeries, cool pocket parks or a bench near a beautiful beach.
Here are some of our picks in and around Vancouver.
Richmond is home to some great separated bike lanes, scenic ocean routes and even a couple residential routes. Its level ground makes it a good place to add a few more kilometres to your distance or take the family for a beautiful weekend. Check out the Railway Greenway. It is a separated lane which runs north-south. It connects to the West Dyke trail and the Crabapple Ridge bike route. Check out historic Steveston for lunch or head to the Sanctuary Cafe – a prime cycling destination complete with bike parking inside.
The perfect family ride lies in Burnaby and runs to Vancouver. With a pool on one end at New Brighton Park and a splash park and pool on the other at Confederation Park, tackling the couple of hills in between will seem like a breeze. If you are towing some wee ones check out the Burnaby Central Railway – its ride-on trains are a must for weekend fun. A slight detour to Hasting Street will bring you to the stop-worthy Glenburn Soda Fountain. It will delight riders of all ages.
For longer rides, consider the North Shore. Recent years have seen the completion of the Spirit Trail. You can travel from the Deep Cover or the Ironworkers’ Memorial Bridge to West Vancouver. The greenway is a great way to cover substantial distance while feeling safe. Use the Spirit Trail to do a fantastic circle route covering both North Shore Bridges. It’s worth popping slightly off route to visit Thomas Haas Chocolates or if you are up for ice cream and a big hill to Welcome Parlour Ice Cream, the family-run shop offers great regular and dairy-free flavours and even tasting flights. Still on the North Shore? To beat summer heat – head to the car-free Seymour Trailway. Starting near Lynn Canyon the paved route goes to the Seymour dam and can be shaded bliss mid-summer.
Another great family ride is in Port Moody. Starting at Rocky Point Park or from the Moody Centre Skytrain station – this route around Burrard inlet will keep kids happy with a stop off at the splash park, playground or ice cream shop at Rocky Point Park. Adults will love Brewery Row with Yellow Dog, Twin Sails, Parkside, and Moody Ales. There are great options to extend to Belcarra or tackle some hills and circle through to Port Coquitlam.
The more you ride, the more you will want to. For some having the goal of Ride Don’t Hide will be the catalyst of a whole new healthier life cycling. See you on the road!
Stigma runs deep
With more than 20 years supporting mental health of family members, and many recent years as a passionate advocate and fundraiser for the Canadian Mental Health Association, PJ Duncan found it hard to ask for his own help.
“It’s interesting as much as people know my door is always open and if you need help in the middle of the night – call me. But just over a year ago I was diagnosed with depression and I didn’t want to tell anyone,” says 42-year-old Duncan. “Even though I have been working to end that stigma, I still felt it so powerfully.”
An avid athlete who competed in marathons and triathlons Duncan was sidelined by a car accident a few years ago. It began a downward spiral.
“I finally went to the doctor and said ‘I’m broken. I am in pain all the time. I don’t feel like me,’’ he says. “Fitness was so important to me. I went from doing an Ironman [Triathlon] to not being able to run three kilometres and it was devastating.”
That conversation with his doctor opened Duncan’s eyes to one of the cycles of depression: pain triggers depression, which then can rewire your brain to intensify pain, he says. Working with his doctor Duncan began managing his depression through fitness. It began with using a smartwatch to prompt and encourage at least 30 minutes of exercise every day. A streak Duncan proudly shares is more than 380 days straight.
“That’s one aspect of Ride Don’t Hide that doesn’t get focused on: fitness can be really, really good for depression,” he says. “Exercise can boost your mood so much. Not everyday is great but fitness helps a huge amount with the pain and my mental health.”
Before his depression and well before his involved in RDH, Duncan had a lot of first hand experience with mental health. After graduating university he packed up and moved to New Zealand to help his mother and sister who both have their own battles with mental health.
“I wish there had been more people in my life who talked to me. My mom struggled with mental health all through my childhood and I just thought that was growing up. That is what everyone goes through,” says Duncan. “I would love to see more families involved [in Ride Don’t Hide] and really talking. Make kids know it’s okay to not be okay and what you are feeling has been felt by a lot of before and there is help out there.”
Back in Canada, Duncan and friends Daemon Cadman and Holland Miller formed a team for a charity bike but after a couple of years, tragedy struck. A friend in their circle – Amanda – died by suicide. It was the beginning of a devastating year that saw several friends lose their battle for mental health.
“We thought this is a big, big problem and we needed to help,” said Duncan. “We shifted gears to supporting mental health and the three of us have been a core group doing it for years. We do it for Mandy who triggered this and to raise awareness – to help someone be more comfortable asking for help.”
The stigma around mental health is a key driver for Duncan today. He continues to work on his own depression and is an essential member of the RDH committee. He aims to make the ride approachable for people who may need community support.
“To see all these people who are there – and you know you are safe with – feels good. It’s okay to shed a tear,” he says. “It’s was really comforting to be around all these people – to know we are all there, uniting, to better mental health.”
He speaks from a place of experience, with family, with friends and now first hand.
“It can be so hard to get your butt out and go for a run or got to the gym because you feel like sh*t and you just want to stay at home. It’s really big just to get out and do something – it feels really good.”
Can’t save the date? Join our Virtual Ride and support Ride Don’t Hide on your schedule. Ride Don’t Hide will be taking to the streets of Vancouver, Burnaby and Richmond June 23, 2019 to raise money for mental health programs for Greater Vancouver youth but you can still show your support even if you can’t make our ride. The annual Canadian Mental Health Association community event and mental health fundraiser is a cornerstone for local programs and essential for keeping the conversation open on mental health.
If June 23 doesn’t fit into your calendar, Ride Don’t Hide also has a virtual ride, which means you can support the CMHA at a time and in a way that works for you. You even create a virtual team. Walk or ride to support raising mental health awareness, ending stigma and helping youth on your own timeline and in the way that is most meaningful to you. Maybe it isn’t riding at all – maybe it’s hosting a games night, a garage sale or a neighbourhood ice cream social.
How it works
When creating your registration as an individual or team select Virtual Ride. It has a reduced registration fee of $25 (which is refunded with a minimum $100 raised for CMHA). This gives you access to Ride Don’t Hide fundraising tools and you will receive a 2019 Ride t-shirt to further raise mental health awareness.
Set a goal
Think about a distance or fundraising goal that means something to you. Aim to you push yourself but be realistic. Consider committing to:
- Raising $500 or $1000.
- Riding 1km throughout June for every dollar donated.
- Riding 10km for each family member who is affected by mental health disorders.
- Have a birthday coming up? You likely don’t need anything more, instead ask for donations to Ride Don’t Hide. Turning 40? Ask for $40. Turning 56? Ask for $56.
Share and ask for help
A virtual ride allows you to support Ride Don’t Hide in a meaningful way that is flexible and works for you, and it can also work for a team.
- Does your work have a walking group? Organize a team, hold a few small scale fundraisers and dedicate a week to walking for Ride Don’t Hide.
- Plan to hit the Stanley Park Seawall or the Lower Seymour Conservation Reserve Trail with your extended family and friends for a weekend bike ride and ice cream.
- Grab some classmates, form a team and do a bike ride for your grad celebrations – all the while supporting other local youth.
A team can be made of anyone else who also wants to support CMHA youth mental health programs and open the discussion on mental health.
Get out there
Reach out to your network and start fundraising. The biggest asset to the virtual ride is that you are supporting local CMHA programs in a flexible way. It can be what you want, when you want. You don’t need to wait until June. You can accomplish your goal at any time. Make the commitment to bring mental health into the open. Help end the stigma. Join the Ride Don’t Hide virtual ride.
From anxiety to mental wealth
When he nine and typical tween worries escalated to severe anxiety attacks Nick Neacsu was told he was crazy.
“I was very young. I would be sitting down at my desk at school,” he remembers. “I would feel a tension almost like a vertigo. The walls were closing in. I had shortness of breath. I was scared. In the middle of class it was very embarrassing.
“I remember very clearly – this would be grade four or grade five – going to the nurse’s office and the principal coming in and saying I was crazy.”
Those initial attacks were the beginning of a ten year battle with severe, debilitating anxiety. Today as a successful realtor Neacsu credits his mother for advocating on his behalf through emergency room visits until he was diagnosed and supported by pediatric programs at the University of British Columbia. His experiences have motivated him to advocate and fundraise for more mental health programs for youth and to join the board of the Canadian Mental Health Association Vancouver-Fraser.
“There is no way I could have gotten through this without help,” says Neacsu. “This is a physical debilitation that needs a cast like a broken bone but the cast is medication. Like a broken bone, it can’t heal on its own – it needs to be protected.”
As devastating and debilitating as his anxiety was Neacsu credits his experience for his resilience and focus which led to youth sport achievements which led to education opportunities and ultimately his career.
“I would not have the success I have without going through that,” he says. “I had to train to pay attention and focus on my body to be aware of what’s happening and try to snap out of the growing anxiety attack. Now I can focus – hyperfocus. As hard as it was, I wouldn’t change it.”
This June CMHA is hosting Ride Don’t Hide, a fundraising community ride to support mental health programs for Greater Vancouver Youth.
“I know how much programs like those helped me,” says Neacsu. “I hope people can have access to programs and get help but we also need compassion, and understanding that this is happening. We need to talk about it more. My mind was broken but people don’t have compassion for what they don’t understand.”
Neacsu recalls how isolated he and his family felt while dealing with his mental health.
“If there are is a family going through this – seeing their kid go through panic attacks – they can feel helpless,” he adds. “Maybe seeing the other side, after recovering from this will give them confidence while they’re in it.”
Looking back, Neacsu doesn’t minimize how difficult and painful his anxiety was at the time, but today after medical treatment and mental health programs he is thriving.
“This is devastating but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t make you stronger. It made me mentally strong. I would not be who I am and where I am without having gone through it – and I like who I am.”
Join Nick and others at Ride Don’t Hide June 23, 2019. Ride Don’t Hide supports CMHA’s local children’s and youth mental health programming and provides a fun event to celebrate community. With an attainable fundraising minimums and rides for all abilities including a family friendly walk/roll 5K, 10K, 20K, 60K, 100K routes plus a virtual ride, it’s about bringing mental health into the open. www.ridedonthide.com
Finding yourself in finding your health
It’s not a big secret – not everyone loves to exercise. On rough days getting dressed can be hard enough, working out because we should is a non-starter. Finding the right goal can be what is needed to get you started and locked in to a physically and mentally healthier lifestyle.
Ride Don’t Hide is about community supporting community. It’s about bringing mental health into the open. The June 23rd, 2019 community fundraising event has routes for all abilities from a family friendly walk/roll 5K, to a 10K, 20K, 60K, and 100K route as well as a Virtual Route for those who are not able to join us that day. With either a registration fee or an attainable fundraising minimum of $100* you can focus on fun and fitness.
Commit to your ride
Once you have made the decision to Ride Don’t Hide, commit: block the date in your calendar, sign up, pay up. Don’t give yourself space to quit.
Tell friends. Tell family. Tell colleagues. Give your goal a voice – make it real. Tell someone else six weeks from now when training rides are hard or you need a last little push to meet your fundraising goal.
Find ride buddies
Ride day and training days will be easier with someone by your side. Ride Don’t Hide isn’t about new personal best times, it’s about building community. Ask others to join you on the ride. Teammates will put the FUN in fundraising. Teammates will get you out the door when you don’t want to ride. Teammates will keep you on the bike five minutes longer. Teammates will bring the important mental health awareness of Ride Don’t Hide to their circles of support – spread the love, end the stigma.
Grab a bike – dust off the one you have or borrow a neighbour’s. All you need is two wheels to make a difference. If you are new to cycling keep your rides small. Ride to the store. Ride around the park. Your commitment to riding should be to achieve your goal for Ride Don’t Hide, not to accomplish it overnight. If you are adding distance find a plan. Don’t be intimidated by 60K or 100k. Try to ride three days a week – aiming to make it a commitment to bettering yourself as much as Ride Don’t Hide.
There will may be days your legs are tired and your bum hurts. Sometimes knowing you are supporting local children and youth mental health will be enough to get you out the door. On the tough days – ask for help. Call your ride buddies. Ask that weekend warrior from work to come along for a ride. Join a cycling club if you find yourself yearning for the road, finding peace in the saddle and thriving in your training. Promise yourself that donut, that hot bath or that massage – whatever restores your mind and body.
Crossing a finishing line surrounded by friends and like-minded people will fill your soul. Knowing you are a part of something bigger than that 10K, 60K or 100K is indescribable. Committing to and finishing Ride Don’t Hide makes you part of an important movement to embrace mental health, to remove stigma and to empower Greater Vancouver’s children and youth.
See you on the road!
*The 100K route has a fundraising minimum of $400.