CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. - Breanna Ching believes it takes a village to fight in the battle against mental illness.
The 21-year-old UPEI student is no stranger to struggle.
A few years ago when she first enrolled at university, Ching started feeling out of sorts.
When symptoms of anxiety and depression presented, she said it impacted even the most basic of daily functions.
“I just remember my first semester I laid in my dorm room for days and I just stayed there,” she told The Guardian Tuesday. “I just couldn't get any energy or motivation to do anything.”
Because of the stigma and discrimination associated with mental illness, Ching said she found it “incredibly difficult” to ask for help.
But she did, and today she continues to be a warrior against mental illness, saying in the past few years, she’s “come a long way”.
“It wasn’t an easy or fun road to recovery, and I’m definitely still learning and growing each day, but it was a journey that, in the end, was absolutely worth every minute,” she said. “I stand very strong today because of countless people who (supported) me, but it’s certainly a daily effort to maintain strong mental health.”
“There is a light at the end of the tunnel.”
Now that she’s found a way out of her darkness, Ching wants to help others on their journeys towards healing.
Ching decided that for her 21st birthday in January, she’d try to raise money for mental health.
So Ching, along with co-organizer Jenny Cooper, planned a fundraising event for the end of the month to shine light on the issue.
Raising Up Warriors hopes to raise at least $2,100, with proceeds being split evenly between the Canadian Mental Health Association and the Lennon Recovery House.
Charlottetown musician Drea MacDonald said she is looking forward to performing at the event and said it was a worthy cause.
“I believe that the stigma surrounding mental health has prevented many people from acknowledging that they need help and from receiving it,” she said. “Coming together to talk about it and support each other is a great step. I’m happy to donate my time and energy.”
Ching offers this advice for others who are struggling: keep pushing forward and never give up.
“No matter where you go, no matter what walk of life you’re from, there are barriers that we all face when accessing any sort of help, but if you just keep pressing on and believe that it will get better – even when all hope seems gone, even when chemical imbalances are making you feel helpless and hopeless – there is a light at the end of the tunnel.”
- What: Raising Up Warriors mental health fundraiser
- When: April 28, 6:30-9 p.m.
- Where: Murphy’s Community Centre
- Admission: $5
- Guest speaker: Grant Matheson
- Activities: silent auction, raffle, games, music, trivia and more.
- For more information, visit the Raising Up Warriors Facebook page.