Event to raise mental health awareness returns to Maple Ridge

It’s an event to raise awareness about mental health this Saturday in Maple Ridge.

Employing the tagline “We’re all mad here,” the Mad Hatters Foundation is set to host a parade and tea party on May 20 at Memorial Peace Park.

The event marks the local organization’s return after the pandemic.

Read: Affordable mental health funding extended to Ridge Meadows

Set to take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., the free event offers attendees an opportunity to decorate top hats which they can wear during the parade.

Working with families through support groups and as an educator with the BC Schizophrenia Society (BCSS), Catherine Larnon-Trout said there aren’t enough resources available for people and families dealing with mental illnesses.

Compared to people experiencing physical illnesses, there are almost no resources available for those with mental illnesses, Larnon-Trout said, explaining what compelled her to start this initiative.

“I decided, Well, we need to make a thing. We need to have like heart and stroke bikes and we have diabetes walk and we have Terry Fox Run, we have all these things and we don’t have anything for mental illness, nothing,” said Larnon-Trout.

Due to the stigma associated with mental health, her aim was to put together a day where people can come together, and enjoy themselves while also learning about the silent struggles of community members.

Her son has schizophrenia and loves wearing hats which inspired the idea and name of the organization.

The parade will be a short walk from the Haney’s Farmers Market to the ACT Arts Centre, where MLA Lisa Beare, MLA Bob D’Eith and acting mayor of Maple Ridge will share personal stories and experiences with mental illness.

An Alice in Wonderland-style high-tea party, served in fine china will follow where supplies will be provided by local businesses Vanilla Bean Bakeshop and Once Upon A Tea.

“The stigma has to stop so that people will see us as people and see we are worthy of getting the same kind of medical attention as people with physical disease.”

The event is free for all ages and activities for children will include face painting, balloons and a clown performance.

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