This event has been held annually in Twillingate since 2014 in memory of a young man, Robbie Facey. His battle with mental illness ended tragically in 2012.
The run is a way to remember Robbie while raising funds and bringing awareness to mental health issues throughout the community. Participants have raised over $20,000 over the past three years that have been donated towards mental health initiatives.
This year the organizing committee decided that they would like the money to be utilized locally.
The $8000 raised at the July event this year was used for two initiatives.
Some of the proceeds were donated to the hockey camp hosted by the Twillingate Combines for snacks which were given out to the youth who took part in a mental health presentation by Dr. Ngai.
The rest of the proceeds were used in conjunction with a Mental Health and Wellness team, to provide mental health first aide training to community representatives from Twillingate and New World Island. The Remembering Robbie Committee covered registration costs for three of the participants as well as covering substitute time — totalling 10 days — for five teachers in attendance.
The session participants were made up of community members and Central Health employees who were instructed how to recognize the signs and symptoms of mental illness, increase knowledge of appropriate treatments, reduce the stigma associated with mental illness, as well as increase confidence in providing help to those in need.
Participant Sharon Mercer said, “The mental health first aid training was a hug benefit to me.
“The course gave a good understanding of a number of mental health problems and how to recognize and support a person dealing with them.”
Mercer noted that the course offered a lot of information about substance related disorders, mood disorders, self-injury, anxiety, eating and psychotic disorders. She feels this information will greatly benefit her as the executive director of the local Community Youth Network.
“I left the course feeling like there was a group of people around me that all work together in serving our young people and there to be a support network and offer guidance and resources when we can,” she said.
Just as physical first aid can mean the difference between life and death for a person who is injured, participants in this event hope that what they learned in the mental health first aid course can have the same important impact to a person in crisis.