Matina Michelis in front of Michael Garron Hospital

We're all In this together

Matina Michelis has a message for those struggling with mental health issues: you’re not alone.

“I believe that mental illness affects everyone to some extent—whether it’s personally, or friends or family,” she says. “I’ve struggled with severe anxiety; it’s something that can start simply as stress and progress quickly from there. I feel that there is so much stigma around mental illness, and there really shouldn’t be. I don’t think people don’t realize how common it really is.”

“I believe that mental illness affects everyone to some extent—whether it’s personally, or friends or family,” she says. “I’ve struggled with severe anxiety; it’s something that can start simply as stress and progress quickly from there. I feel that there is so much stigma around mental illness, and there really shouldn’t be. I don’t think people don’t realize how common it really is.”In fact, statistics show that by the age of 40 half of the Canadian population will have experienced a mental health challenge at some point. And when you count the family, friends and colleagues of a person struggling with their mental health, it’s an issue that affects all of us.

A community in need 

The need is great. Poverty and isolation—two of the most two of the most critical social determinants of health—affect people in our East Toronto neighbourhoods disproportionately, and we have a higher prevalence of mental health disorders in our community than the city average.

But the experience of a mental health disorder often comes with an enormous stigma that prevents those struggling with mental illness or addictions from getting the help they need.

Drawing awareness to the cause 

That’s why drawing awareness to this stigma through our first annual Michael Garron Hospital Cup: Kick the Stigma soccer tournament is so important. Funds raised will build state-of-the-art mental health facilities at Michael Garron Hospital, and ensure that those who need help will have modern facilities to heal in so they can move forward with their lives.

Matina believes the tournament is something she can truly get behind. Her team—family, friends and fellow nursing students—is comprised of people who share her passion for the cause. And as a nursing student graduate, Matina appreciates the importance of having outstanding healthcare facilities close to home.

“I was born here at Michael Garron Hospital, and members of my family visit the hospital regularly,” she says. “My grandfather has dementia and Parkinson’s and visits the hospital regularly, so accessibility is something that is very important to my family. We’ve been able to build relationships here, and get care closer to home—we’re really lucky to have this hospital in our community.”

We’ve been able to build relationships here, and get care closer to home—we’re really lucky to have this hospital in our community.”

Join us on for Kick the Stigma on Saturday, September 22!  For more information, visit kickthestigma.ca, or contact Lindsay Hunt at 416-469-6580 ext. 6218, or Lindsay.hunt@tehn.ca