HEALTH

middle-header-health

kendra fisher mentally fit

Kendra Fisher of Mentally Fit announced a mental health community action plan March 28 at the Kincardine Pavilion. The program aims to do more for people living with mental illness in Bruce, Grey, Huron and Perth counties.

Hub Staff

The Mentally Fit initiative is kicking it into high gear and aims to help people living with mental illness in Bruce, Grey, Perth and Huron counties find new ways to cope and come together with a Mentally Fit community action plan.

Mentally Fit was created by former elite hockey player Kendra Fisher of Kincardine and during a press conference March 28 at the Kincardine Pavilion she told of her personal experience with mental illness and what she hopes the action plan can do for the rural communities.

“My dream was to play for Team Canada,” she told the crowd, reflecting on a goal of competing in the Olympics. “Nothing was ever going to get in the way of that,” she said.

At the age of 19, Fisher made it to tryouts in Calgary, however “mental illness got in the way." Fisher stated that at the time she was yet to be diagnosed. “What I did know is that what I was living with was taking every part that I knew away from me.”

Fisher detailed five years of being unable to leave her apartment. She couldn't be alone and couldn't function after being diagnosed with a General Anxiety Disorder, Agoraphobia, a severe Panic Disorder, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder and Clinical Depression. She said she thought about ending her life but “for whatever reason, found it in me for one more day and that was the day I started my journey towards recovery and started to learn about the tools and resources to take control of my recovery.”

Fisher's recovery became a balance of physical activity, good nutrition, yoga, mindfulness, talk therapy and medication, but she said she’s an anomaly “because I had access to all the things I needed at the right time and a lot of people can’t necessarily find that... there are so many people that don’t know where to turn,” she said, adding that in rural communities the distance to get help can be far.

“How do you ask somebody in crisis to wait, how do you tell somebody who's got a child who’s speaking about suicide and they've got to wait six months before they can talk to a doctor,” she said.

Through her organization, Mentally Fit, Fisher plans to change mental illness care in the four counties with the community action plan.

By September 2018, in both elementary and secondary school levels, there will be two trained ASIST (Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training) designates at each school with training now underway. The designates will have the tools to respond to students in crisis by working with identifiers; and will also coordinate a strategy to give youth a voice, “a chance to tell us what it is that they're missing...what supports they feel they need,” said Fisher, adding that there will also be a symposium to work with the information and dialogue created by having the mental health focus in schools.

Fisher urged skilled individuals in the business of healing to work together to create Mentally Fit programming as well as create a database of the various mental health programming available. “Any form of support, I want to know it, from art therapy, music, therapy, psychologist, therapist, psychotherapist, peer councillors accreditation in peer counselling or ASIST training, personal trainers, nutritionist, massage therapist, yoga instructors, naturopaths, people who are into essential oils; there’s a piece of education in every one of those things that can be geared towards helping people who are living with mental health issues,” she said.

“If you're somebody who’s in crisis and you have the opportunity to try different things that might help it is such a relief when you get that moment when you realize that something relates to what you're dealing with,” she added.

Fisher hopes that a database of healers can help bridge the gap across the four counties and create access to new and different programming that can run in various locations on a weekly basis. She used the example of a yoga studio teaching a Mentally Fit yoga class. “You might have participants who have anxiety and you might have participants who aren’t comfortable in there and let’s learn how to coach them through those moments so it can become a coping mechanism,” she said.

Fisher also gave out the example of a Mentally Fit bootcamp, calling the opportunity “a safe environment to learn new coping skills that increase cardiovascular for a minimum of 30 minutes a day,” she said. “It does wonderful things for serotonin levels, it does wonderful things for the chemicals in the brain.”

Fisher said she wants to teach the culture that mental health and physical health are one in the same and wants to create a community where the expectation is a safe place for everybody.

The Mentally Fit community action plan received a healthy dose of funding from Bruce Power through its Community and Indigenous Relations Program. Bruce Power’s Chris Mercanti presented $90,000 to Fisher and said that Bruce Power was pleased to be a part of the initiative and said they have worked with Fisher in the past on various mental health initiatives. “I fully expect we will be on this journey with Kendra, in addition to what we've done here today, as it moves forward,” he said.

kendra fisher

Mentally Fit aims to have two trained ASIST (Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training) designates in every school in Grey, Bruce, Huron and Perth by September 2018 as well as a database of support programs across the four counties.

kendra fisher bruce power chris mercanti

Chris Mercanti, Section Manager of Bruce Power’s Community and Indigenous Relations, presented Kendra Fisher with $90,000 to assist her with the Mental Fit community action plan March 28.

health video topper final

Optimize Jan2018