Shaley Hoogendorn will be facilitating conversations on mental health every Wednesday in February at Open Door Church in Maple Ridge. (Contributed photo)

Free mental health convos aim to fight stigma

Open Door Church to host four nights of stories and conversations about mental health

As wonderful as Bell Let’s Talk Day is, Shaley Hoogendorn thinks there needs to be more than one day a year in which mental health is discussed.

She will host Wired: Conversations in Mental Health at Open Door Church in Maple Ridge every Wednesday this month. Hoogendorn said she came up with the idea after producing Sisters in Mental Illness, a vlog series where she interviewed women from all of the world who have mental health disorders.

“I’m super passionate about it because ten years ago I was diagnosed with bipolar II disorder and I found people don’t talk about it or it’s really uncomfortable [to do so],” she said.

“And I’m just finding in the work that I’m doing there are so many of us out there and there is so much shame and stigma, so I wanted to bring a little bit of what I’m trying to do online into our community.”

READ MORE: Better mental health supports for students in SD42

She stressed the event will be open to everyone who is interested in learning more about mental health, it’s not necessarily just for people with illnesses or diagnoses.

It is important to Hoogendorn that the events spark meaningful discussion. She will have some speakers booked but is hoping to interview the guests and then open the conversation to the audience, whether it is in small group discussions or an open forum.

“One of the things that I truly believe is that the only way we’re going to be able to start ending this stigma is to be able to talk,” she said.

“We need to hear all voices. So if people feel comfortable, they will absolutely will have a chance to share their stories.”

Hoogendorn says the first session, which takes place Feb. 5, will see the group discussing mental health, mental illness, grief and burnout. Week two (Feb. 12) will talk about mental health in faith communities. Week three (Feb 19) will be a discussion about mental health in the family, where Hoogendorn plans to talk about how it can affect more than just the individual with the illness. Week four (Feb 26) will be a panel discussion where the lessons learned from the previous three weeks will be unpacked.

READ MORE: COLUMN: Parents need to get informed about mental health illnesses

The mental health advocate is excited to see what comes of the sessions.

“Ever since I shared my story online or while public speaking, it’s amazing how many people have come forward that have never told anyone before. They’ve just been living in silence.”

Hoogendorn hopes she can help bring that silence to an end.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

mental health

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Drive-thru food truck fest comes to Maple Ridge

Cotton candy, tacos, fried chicken, and more at Albion Fairgrounds, Aug 8-9

Maple Ridge hockey player hunting a Stanley Cup

Brad Hunt got into his first NHL playoff game against the Vancouver Canucks

Staff member tests positive for COVID-19 at Maple Ridge Seniors Village

Fraser Health is on site implementing outbreak protocols at the seniors care facility

B.C. records 146 new COVID-19 cases through long weekend

More that 28 people tested positive for the virus each day since Friday

COVID-19 vaccine efforts provide hope but no silver bullet to stop pandemic: Tam

There are more than two dozen vaccines for COVID-19 in clinical trials around the world

Two people die in propane heated outdoor shower near Princeton

Couple was attending a long weekend gathering

Study shines light on what makes LGBTQ+ youth feel safe in a community

The study goes beyond looking at school or family supports

Alberta to require masks at schools this fall, but still no mandate in B.C.

B.C. students are also set to return to classrooms in September

Gangster Jarrod Bacon released from prison for third time

Parole board continues to express concerns about Bacon’s behaviour

B.C. to allow customers to buy cannabis online for in-store pickup at private shops

Age verification will still be required inside the store

30% of British Columbians would ‘wait and see’ before taking COVID vaccine: poll

Some are concerned about side effects, while others don’t think the virus is a big deal

What exactly is ‘old growth’ B.C. forest, and how much is protected?

Forests minister Doug Donaldson doesn’t support ‘moratorium’

Most Read