Ride Don't Hide raises $676,000 to support programs for mental health

Thousands of British Columbians participate in third annual national community cycling event with proceeds benefitting the Canadian Mental Health Association

VANCOUVER, June 22, 2014 /CNW/ - Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) branches across Canada raised $676,000 through the third annual Ride Don't Hide event held today.

Started in B.C., the event has grown into a national initiative thanks to the support of provincial title sponsor Shoppers Drug Mart. Now in its third year, Ride Don't Hide attracted 3,519 riders in 20 communities across four provinces.

More than 2,100 British Columbians participated in 13 community rides across the province. Funds raised will support the CMHA BC's mental health programs for women and their families.

Approximately one in five Canadians will experience mental illness in their lifetime, the majority of them women, according to CMHA. More than 70 percent of the 80,000 British Columbians CMHA BC helps each year are women and families.

Bojana Dzombeta, Shoppers Drug Mart Pharmacist-owner sees many women suffering from depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, substance abuse and extreme stress.

"As a group of community pharmacists we see a need to support women's mental health as a component of the company's overarching commitment to improve women's health through our corporate giving program, Shoppers Drug Mart WOMEN," said Dzombeta.

Omar Alasaly, Associate-owner of Shoppers Drug Mart Uptown Centre in Victoria notes that there is a direct link between exercise and mental health.

"Studies demonstrate that exercise can increase the level of serotonin in the brain, which is a key treatment for depression," said Alasaly. "We want to lead by example, because we believe that when Canadian women are healthy and well, Canada is healthy and well."

The Ride Don't Hide movement began with Vancouver educator Michael Schratter who lives with bipolar disorder. Schratter cycled 40,000 km around the globe, inspiring millions and raising $100,000 for CMHA.

"It's heartening to watch Ride Don't Hide continue to grow, engage and inspire so many people across Canada," said Schratter. "Never in a thousand years could I have expected that it would become the movement it is today." 

Karla Zlatarits is one of the top fundraisers in B.C. Building on the mental health benefits of physical activity that Ride Don't Hide promotes, Zlatarits – who lives with an anxiety disorder – developed and now coordinates the new STEPS Youth Recreation Program with CMHA in North and West Vancouver.

"Ride Don't Hide has empowered me to advocate for mental health, combat the stigma and raise much needed funds for mental health services," said Zlatarits.

"It brings people of all ages and backgrounds together to be active, have fun and connect with one another, while promoting hope, recovery and resilience for those of us who live with mental health concerns."

For CMHA BC CEO Bev Gutray, this year's event demonstrates the ongoing shift in how Canadians view mental illness and those living with mental health issues.

"The continued growth of Ride Don't Hide demonstrates that we are on our way, but we still have more road to cover," said Gutray. "As a society we can't afford to hide; we need to become completely comfortable talking about mental health and openly discussing mental illness."

CMHA is still accepting donations online at www.ridedonthide.com or through its local branches. Contact 1-800-555-8222 for more information.

About Shoppers Drug Mart Ride Don't Hide
Shoppers Drug Mart Ride Don't Hide is an annual community bike ride hosted by the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) in celebration and support of mental health, with the goal of ending the stigma around mental illness. First launched with Michael Schratter's 40,000 km ride around the globe in 2010, Ride Don't Hide is a growing national movement with community bike rides in 20 cities across BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Ontario. This year CMHA in BC aims to engage more than 3,000 participants and over a dozen schools, and raise $600,000 for mental health programs supporting women and their families. Join the movement and find a local community ride at ridedonthide.com.

About the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) in BC
Canadian Mental Health Association is one of Canada's oldest and most established national mental health charities. Our vision is mentally healthy people in a healthy society. As the nation-wide leader and champion for mental health, CMHA facilitates access to the resources people require to maintain and improve mental health and community integration, build resilience, and support recovery from mental illness or addiction. We do this by building capacity, influencing policy, providing services and developing resources. Each year, CMHA in BC provides services and supports to over 82,000 British Columbians through our provincial and local programing.  CMHA promotes mental health for all and supports the resilience and recovery of people experiencing mental illness or addiction. To learn more visit www.cmha.bc.ca.

About Shoppers Drug Mart Corporation
Shoppers Drug Mart Corporation is one of the most recognized and trusted names in Canadian retailing.  The Company is the licensor of full-service retail drug stores operating under the name Shoppers Drug Mart (Pharmaprix in Québec).  With 1,253 Shoppers Drug Mart and Pharmaprix stores operating in prime locations in each province and two territories, the Company is one of the most convenient retailers in Canada.  The Company also licenses or owns 56 medical clinic pharmacies operating under the name Shoppers Simply Pharmacy (Pharmaprix Simplement Santé in Québec) and six luxury beauty destinations operating as Murale.  As well, the Company owns and operates 62 Shoppers Home Health Care stores, making it the largest Canadian retailer of home health care products and services.  In addition to its retail store network, the Company owns Shoppers Drug Mart Specialty Health Network Inc., a provider of specialty drug distribution, pharmacy and comprehensive patient support services, and MediSystem Technologies Inc., a provider of pharmaceutical products and services to long-term care facilities.

For more information, visit www.shoppersdrugmart.ca.

About Shoppers Drug Mart WOMEN
Shoppers Drug Mart WOMEN represents the organization's commitment to improving the health of all Canadian women in body, mind and spirit. Brought to life through eight partnership programs, created with leading experts and institutions in women's health, this national initiative connects women to health information and resources that help ensure their health only gets stronger. More information can be found at shoppersdrugmart.ca/women.

SOURCE: Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA)

For further information: Media Contact: Jennifer Quan, Marketing and Communications Manager, Canadian Mental Health Association, BC Division, 604-688-3234 ext. 224 or 604-724-2093 or jennifer.quan@cmha.bc.ca; Lana Gogas, Manager, Communications and Corporate Affairs, Shoppers Drug Mart,416-493-1220, ext. 5141 or lgogas@shoppersdrugmart.ca

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