An hour before her wedding, this advocate was demonstrating for better mental health care

·3 min read
Despite the rain, Kristi Allan spent the hour before her wedding standing outside the Waterford Hospital. (Meg Roberts/CBC - image credit)
Despite the rain, Kristi Allan spent the hour before her wedding standing outside the Waterford Hospital. (Meg Roberts/CBC - image credit)
Meg Roberts/CBC
Meg Roberts/CBC

Kristi Allan has stood outside the Waterford Hospital in St. John's every Saturday for nearly a year to advocate for better mental health services. This Saturday was no different — except for the fact it was her wedding day.

"I said I was going to do it every single weekend," Allan told CBC's On The Go, ahead of the big day.

"I told myself that it was a long-term issue and I was going to do it rain or shine, no matter what."

Standing in a white dress with garbage bags draped over her and a rain bonnet tied securely on top of her curled hair, Allan held up a sign — "Long-term mental health care needs to be more accessible," a motto she hoists every week — just one hour before tying the knot.

Allan said even though getting married is one of the biggest days of her life, she could not break the promise she made last December when she started standing outside the hospital.

She's asking people to write to their local House of Assembly member. She has started a donation page with proceeds going towards the Jacob Puddister Memorial Foundation, which offers free counselling to people aged 12 through 35.

She says the foundation should not even have to exist.

"I don't think it's the non-profit's responsibility to offer mental health care. I think quite frankly that is ridiculous. I am very grateful for it, but it's not OK," she said.

"They do amazing work and I thank them for that, however if the government thinks that something is being fulfilled by a non profit then they likely won't offer that."

Allan, who has been open with her own mental health struggles, said she has been hearing more discussions lately in the House of Assembly regarding mental health but wants people to keep the pressure up.

"We have to let them know that we care about it and that's what we want," she said.

Meg Roberts/CBC
Meg Roberts/CBC

Kaiden Dalley was one of about two dozen supporters who were standing outside the Waterford Hospital Saturday morning, waiting to meet Allan.

Dalley said advocating for better mental health services is an issue close to her as well and she wants the government to recognize their role in improving the current system.

"I want them to know that this is more important than the time they are giving it," she said.

When Dalley found out Allan would be demonstrating in her wedding dress, she said it wasn't surprising, although it would have been understandable if she didn't.

"I have no words to describe her, she is an absolutely amazing person. She is so strong, she is so passionate."

Allan said her fiancé was quite understanding of the plan, considering thousands of people would see her in person or virtually see them on their wedding day.

Her dedication was all too obvious when she started chuckling after an excited dog left a large, muddy paw print on her white wedding dress outside the hospital.

"Mental illness is still an issue when great things are happening in your life," said Allan.

"I thought this is a way to bring attention to that ... mental illness never goes away."

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