Walk-a-Mile for mental health on May 7

Photos from previous events.
Photos from previous events.

HEADLINES Walk a Mile 2HEADLINES Walk a Mile 3THE Walk-a-Mile event for mental health takes place on Thursday, May 7 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the green space on 12th Avenue across from Willow Street in Vancouver.

Bif Naked will be speaking at the event that includes live music and BBQ.

The Walk-a-mile event had a long-standing tradition at Riverview Hospital (RVH).  It was the star attraction of a weeklong lineup of events that celebrated Mental Health Week in May each year.  On some years the attendance reached 1,500 participants.

Despite the downsizing of Riverview Hospital, after 25 years, the event remained a draw for participants, with current and former clients and staff attending from across the Lower Mainland.  The ongoing popularity of the Walk-A-Mile illustrates the impact and importance of the event to all those who participated.

Mental Health Week provided an opportunity to raise awareness of mental health, while creating a sense of community. Clients and staff alike looked forward to the event each year as an opportunity to celebrate Mental Health and focus on the positives through eliminating barriers and stigmas.

With the closure of Riverview Hospital, many felt the tradition of Mental Health Week would end with it.  However, the unique location of Willow Pavilion as part of the VGH campus provided the perfect backdrop re-establishing the walk-a-mile event.  In 2013, Willow Pavilion hosted an inaugural Mental Health Week celebration.  Over 200 participants took part in the Walk-a-mile event, breathing new life into our beloved event and establishing a sense of a new tradition amongst staff and clients at VGH.

The concept of Mental Wellness for All embodies the concept of wellness beyond our doors, reaching out into the community to each and every person. One in 5 Canadians will experience a mental illness in their lifetime.  The remaining 4 will have a friend, family member or colleague who will.  (Health Canada. A Report on Mental Illness in Canada, 2002)

The unique location of Willow Pavilion as part of the VGH campus allows them to open the event up to the general public.  Ultimately the purpose of the event is to raise awareness of Mental health thus reducing stigma.

Their vision is to:

* Integrate the Mental Health Week and Walk-a-Mile into the culture at VCH

* We have a unique opportunity to help de-stigmatize mental health

* Educate the community both within the hospital and with our neighbors

* Have education programs (Speakers, presenters etc) to help educate both our staff and others from the community.

* Maintain the integrity of the event as it does have a long standing tradition

* Open the event out to other members of our mental health community (Fraser Health, community partners MPA, Open Door, etc)

* Offer booths / tables  to community partners (CMHA, Schizophrenia society, etc)  as well as to the disciplines (nursing, peer support, allied, older adult program and psychology)


* Fundraiser and community involvement – much like the “Fun Run” at Children’s Hospital (by 2016)

– This allows them to fundraise for mental health initiatives

– Raise awareness / reduce stigma

– Celebrate mental wellness

* Introduce chains of hope bracelets (By 2014-2015)

– Like the “Livestrong” bracelets that could be bought at the hospital or in the community. Monies raised could be put towards a community participation fund.

– Helping their clients access and participate in community activities where money sometimes is often a deterrent.

* Education (2016)

– Their hope is to have this eventually expand into a two- week event.

– First week dedicated to education- bringing in speakers, presenters

– Education Events will be open to clients, family, staff, and interested parties.

* Branding (2015/2016)

– Creation of a logo for the event to help brand. (2015)

– Facebook / Twitter pages to include social media.(2016)

– Select a slogan they can brand around (with the help of the clients) (2015)

* Consumer Involvement

The driving force behind this event has always been the consumers.  Because of this they include the client in every stage of the events; they include consumers in much of the planning, and direction of the event itself.

– Picking the slogan for the Walk-a-Mile event

– Designing the t-shirts for the event

– Picking the winning designs for the event

– Set up and take down of the events

– Promotion posters made by clients

– Welcoming the walkers to the event with the manager of Willow Pavilion

* Accomplishments in the past two years


– Mental health week introduced to VGH

– Over 200 participants took part in the Walk-a-mile event

– A week of events celebrated Mental Wellness (5 events – one event per day)

– Tertiary partners participated in one or more of the events as well as other inpatient programs at VGH

– Clients picked the slogan for the event (Mental Health for All)


– Over 500 participants took part in the Walk-A-Mile event

– Expanded our week of events to include more activities (8 events)

– Booths for Peer support as well as Alzheimer society both participated with booths at the walk-a-mile event

– Slogan and T-Shirt designed by clients of Willow Pavilion (Mental Wellness Starts with Hope and Compassion)

– Mental Health partners participation (Fraser Health, Forensic Hospital, UBC Hospital, Providence Health and VCH Tertiary Partners)